The Orange County Young Democrats applaud the agreement reached two weeks ago between the County of Orange and the attorneys representing homeless residents in the Santa Ana Riverbed. The deal, which the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved, provides short-term emergency shelter to the residents of the Santa Ana Riverbed in addition to clinical assessments and food vouchers to those who accept the shelter offered.
Specifically, the agreement provides a motel room for a minimum of 30 days for approximately 400 people. The remaining homeless population will also be eligible for hundreds of additional shelter beds in County-administered tents and existing shelters located at the Bridges at Kraemer facilities, the WISEPlace women’s shelter, a county public work yard in Orange, and vacant county land near the Registrar of Voters office on Grand Avenue. The facilities can also act as transitional housing after the initial 30 days. To date, since the time of the Order, the County has placed over 700 people in motel rooms, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has not made any arrests for trespassing.
We applaud this result and thank U.S. District Judge David O. Carter for pursuing a “solutions-oriented process” to protect the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness in the Santa Ana Riverbed. While there is still work to be done and activists and allies must be diligent to ensure the terms of the agreement are honored, we believe the agreement is a positive step in the right direction.
Over the long term, OCYD supports further reform and action that leads to more permanent supportive housing – including the new countywide plan, developed by the Association of California Cities – Orange County and the Orange County United Way, to build 2700 new permanent supportive housing units. The new units, if built, would provide housing for approximately half the homeless residents in Orange County.
**Correction: The statement has been corrected to clarify that the agreement includes provisions for emergency shelter. The statement originally referred to the shelter provided under the deal as short-term housing. We regret the error.**