County Social Services Agency Bus Now Serving Civic Center Homeless

A county social services bus at the downtown Santa Ana Civic Center.

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

A county social services bus at the downtown Santa Ana Civic Center.

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In response to demands by Orange County supervisors to step up efforts to address homelessness in Santa Ana’s downtown Civic Center, officials have brought in a converted recreational vehicle to help link people with social service programs.

Known as the Mobile Response Vehicle, it was brought to the Civic Center for the first time last Thursday, according to county Social Services Agency spokeswoman Elizabeth DenBleyker.

Inside, eligibility workers helped people apply for assistance programs they might be eligible for, like Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs, and General Relief, and respond to questions about existing cases, she said on Friday.

“Yesterday, [the Social Services Agency] was able to serve over 40 individuals with an array of services including applying for services, completing redeterminations, obtaining replacement benefit cards and linkage to other supports,” said DenBleyker.

The homeless encampment at the Civic Center has grown to hundreds of people over the past few years, including some families with young children. The situation has frustrated many who live and work in the area, including many homeless people themselves.

Last month, that frustration appeared to reach a boiling as supervisors, following a column on the situation by Voice of OC Publisher Norberto Santana Jr., castigated   county staff during a public meeting for not doing more to address the homeless situation.

During the session, supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer wondered aloud why the county isn’t “pulling up a van every single day and deploying services,” adding that there should be a “continuum of care” available to the Civic Center population.

He suggested that it include a triage area where homeless people can get set up with drug counseling, mental health treatment and housing and welfare-to-work services.

Going forward, county officials say they plan to bring the vehicle to the Civic Center area each Thursday from about 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., until the end of October.

It’s “part of a larger, multi-agency effort with the Health Care Agency, Orange County Community Resources, and the Santa Ana Police Department to address the needs of the homeless population in that area,” DenBleyker said.

“We will be evaluating the effect that our collective efforts have made in October and will determine our plan for moving forward at that time.”

You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Oh, REEEEEEEHEEEEALLY? Gee whiz, Batman! When our office was right down the street, I suggested this for years! Take it to the people, and cut out the wasteful spending on sending people to homes and such. I have an email that was sent to me from a veeeeery senior manager at SSA, where they said that they didn’t care anything about mentally ill, homeless or the “bean bags” {his words, not mine} on life support in nursing homes, because those people didn’t vote. He also got angry when I questioned why we were not looking at fraud, at all, and that fraud cost the taxpayers, who are our ultimate employers. His response was that no one in the agency gave a d^^^ about taxpayers, because they were a bunch of sheep who were only good for paying money. The entire agency is completely psychotic, spending like drunken sailors on shore leave for themselves and their political gains, then refusing common sense ideas like this one, until someone dares to shine a light on them. I could write a book with all of the lunacy of these inbred morons.

  • Eddie Fast

    Now even more reason to be and stay homeless.

    • Jacki Livingston

      You know NOTHING, clearly.

      • Eddie Fast

        Typical response as expected. Clearly

        • Jacki Livingston

          Do you really believe that the majority of people want to be homeless? Obviously you have never dealt with the people..yaknow…HUMANS…who find themselves in these straights. Most people live just one or two paychecks away from this kind of emergency.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Finally. It only took a couple of decades.

  • John Claxton

    How many of the homeless at Civic Center did Todd Spitzer hand cuff and arrest?

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      My, my, my,,,,,,,,,Todd is not about to be seen mingling with the Civic Center Homeless. He wants only the glory photo op’s.

  • Jus_Jes

    I am glad to hear of this. No credit to the OC Board of Supervisors however. Maybe if they’d pay the county employees that are charged w serving this population and fund their respective programs we could’ve offered so much more, sooner. They don’t pay market comparable wages therefore cannot recruit or retain quality employees. Instead they give themselves raises, hire an event planner to coordinate their calendars so they can all cut ribbons together and lavishly spend taxpayer $ on advancing their own political careers. We the worker bees on the front lines are willing and wanting to serve this community. Sadly management and the BOS tie our hands, repeatedly. Let’s give credit to the people on the frontlines, not those pointing their fingers w a bunch of “you should haves”. For those who care about the homeless and the public health and safety of all OC residents, remember that public employees do the work. Please don’t believe the lies that we are selfish money grabbers who want to bankrupt the County. I can’t remember the last time I got a raise or cost of living increase..5 yrs maybe 7. People in my same job in all the counties surrounding OC get paid better yet OC’s cost of living is much higher. Why do I stay3 Why do most of us stay? Because we genuinely care about OC residents.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Amen! Not to mention the incredible stress that wears on us, being underpaid, undervalued and then punished if we speak out. Whoever you are…be careful, my friend. You could end up like me.

  • Yessenia Garcia

    I am glad to hear of this. No credit to the OC Board of Supervisors however. Maybe if they’d pay the county employees that are charged w serving this population and fund their respective programs we could’ve offered so much more, sooner. They don’t pay market comparable wages therefore cannot recruit or retain quality employees. Instead they give themselves raises, hire an event planner to coordinate their calendars so they can all cut ribbons together and lavishly spend taxpayer $ on advancing their own political careers. We the worker bees on the front lines are willing and wanting to serve this community. Sadly management and the BOS tie our hands, repeatedly. Let’s give credit to the people on the frontlines, not those pointing their fingers w a bunch of “you should haves”. For those who care about the homeless and the public health and safety of all OC residents, remember that public employees do the work. Please don’t believe the lies that we are selfish money grabbers who want to bankrupt the County. I can’t remember the last time I got a raise or cost of living increase..5 yrs maybe 7. People in my same job in all the counties surrounding OC get paid better yet OC’s cost of living is much higher. Why do I stay3 Why do most of us stay? Because we genuinely care about OC residents.