The issue of homelessness has made recent headlines in Orange County due to the media attention to the Santa Ana River encampments, in addition to a growing state-wide homeless population. This attention has prompted the Orange County Board of Supervisors to change course (from the previous “ten-year Plan to End Homelessness) and take action.
In February the County intended to clear 400 people out of the Santa Ana River. When a federal judge issued a retraining order, however, the County moved 700 (the 400 + 300 additional) to local shelters and motels. The thirty day motel vouchers that were given out will expire over the next week, forcing the county to find alternative shelter.
Over the course of the two most recent Board of Supervisor meetings, the County has allotted $90 million for housing and mental health services for the homeless. Permanent supportive housing is the long tern solution for the County, until then however, the County opted to establish camps on various County owned properties. The proposed camps are to be located on county owned land near the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Niguel. The City Councils of all three cities have initiated steps towards litigation against the County.
Much of the outrage surrounding the issue stems from the large amount of funds the County had available to address the homelessness, but opted to not use until this point. According to the Orange County Register:
“the county has $184 million in unspent, available Mental Health Services Act funds from last year, and another $193 million in funding coming in this fiscal year. Of that amount, Nelson estimated $140 million could be spent on housing for the homeless.
Below are links to the two most recent Board of Supervisors Meetings with additional information.