Saturday, 11 July, 2020

The OC Homeless Crisis


The OC Homeless Crisis

Anybody that’s lived in Orange County for a while remembers the sprawling homeless encampment in Santa Ana, with the Angel Stadium looming in the background. It was just a fact of life, and seeing it while driving past was no big deal. Now, seeing the riverbed free of tents and tarps is almost a strange sight ever since Orange County officials moved in and dismantled the camp in January of 2018. Some 700 transients were evicted from their makeshift homes and put up in motels for a one-month period while their needs could be assessed. They were later moved into shelters or other available housing situations. As many as 200 people declined or failed to take advantage of those opportunities, though.

It’s affected Orange County, the clearing of the large camp. We see the effects everyday, people pushing carts and riding bikes piled high with belongings. Unfortunately, there is a perpetual stigma that homeless people are all mentally ill, unstable, and/or addicted to drugs. This stigma is what often deters people from taking action.The fact of the matter is, they are urgently in need of help.

Fortunately, Orange County is finally making moves to fix this. Spurred into action by a federal civil rights lawsuit, the County has plans to purchase a large building in Santa Ana and convert it into a 600-person shelter, making it the largest homeless shelter in the county. The building is a whopping 62,000 square feet, and is a 12.25 million dollar investment. A hefty price to pay, some argue, at 197.50 dollar per square foot, since it is to be paid for with taxpayer money. As for when it will be available to the homeless… it is unclear. The purchase of the building is predicted to be finalized by February, but no certain completion time was revealed.

The bottom line is that something has to be done with these people that are in need of assistance, they can no longer be allowed to sleep on the streets. Both for their own good, and the safety of OC residents who should not fear the streets of their own city.

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