CAA Orange County raises funds for United Way housing program

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ANAHEIM — About 500 rental housing professionals attended the second annual CAA Orange County Charity Gala on Wednesday evening, raising tens of thousands of dollars for a United Way program that fights homelessness.

Like last year, Wednesday’s gala is expected to generate upwards of $50,000 for Orange County United Way, which will move 12 families into their own apartments through its “Rapid Rehousing” program.

Through Rapid Rehousing, United Way helps families who are either homeless or “housing insecure” return to permanent housing as quickly as possible. Housing insecure denotes families in precarious living situations, such as couch surfing, living doubled- or tripled-up in an apartment, staying in a motel, or in a homeless shelter.

Through Rapid Rehousing, United Way helps families return to permanent housing as quickly as possible.

A beneficiary from last year’s CAA Orange County Gala, Michael, attended this year’s dinner and offered a touching update that prompted a standing ovation.

“Being able to be a part of the Rapid Rehousing program for the last months has opened so many doors for me and my family. I am happy to report that since entering the program I have been able to secure meaninful employment as a coach operator — aka bus driver,” said Michael, whose sons Elijah, 7, and Michael III, 9, joined him on the stage. “And I just want to speak for my boys and I: We are so grateful to live in the land of America — the United States — where this is possible, where dreams are possible.”

Attendees also watched this video, in which Michael thanks United Way and Families Forward, a nonprofit that assists homeless families and those at risk of homelessness, for helping him improve his life and the lives of his children.

In addition to Families Forward, Orange County United Way works with other nonprofits in its crusade against homelessness, including Mercy House, Pathways of Hope, Project Hope Alliance and Serving People in Need.

“Some of those names you may know, and we hope as a result of our partnership, some of those names you’ll begin to know,” Carla Vargas of United Way told the audience. “And altogether, we — and when I say ‘we’ I mean you — are moving the needle on United Way’s 10-year goal to cut the percentage of kids who are living  unstably or homeless here in Orange County. And we’re doing that one family at a time.”

The event also included CAA Orange County naming Costa Mesa Mayor Steve Mensinger as its OC Housing Champion. Mensinger has spearheaded work to bring more residential units to Costa Mesa and has helped revitalize areas of the city.

PHOTO BY BOB HEER OF TO’ & MO’ TOWING named Costa Mesa Mayor Steve Mensinger, CAA's OC Housing Champion, addresses the audience during Wednesday's Charity Gala.

PHOTO BY BOB HEER OF TO’ & MO’ TOWING
named Costa Mesa Mayor Steve Mensinger, CAA’s OC Housing Champion, addresses the audience during Wednesday’s Charity Gala.

Mensinger, who’s worked in the rental housing industry, said no issue drives the economy more than real estate and real estate development.

“And in the past three years, we’ve championed live-work lofts and multifamily housing,” said the mayor, one of numerous elected officials in attendance.  “And we’re proud to do that, and we will be proud to do that in the future.”

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Tagged: Orange County

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