Santana: A Shelter Isn’t a Strategy

Keep your eyes on them…especially when they agree to do something.

That should be the mantra for engaging Orange County supervisors on critical issues of the day, like homelessness.

We could carve it onto the county seal just above the supervisors’ dais, a new twist on the current bid to emblazon every dais in America with “In God We Trust.”

Watch this Tuesday, as the all-Republican Board of Supervisors moves forward with plans to build a year-round homeless shelter in Anaheim, a historic first for Orange County.

After months of outreach, supervisors will hold a hearing Tuesday at the Hall of Administration in Santa Ana at 11 a.m. to finalize plans to partner with the cities of Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea to purchase a facility at 1000 N. Kramer Place in Anaheim for the establishment of a permanent homeless shelter.

There will be all sorts of back slapping once their historic vote is tallied.

But remember a shelter is not a strategy.

These are the same board of supervisors that just recently unanimously supported a directive from Supervisor Andrew Do to establish a county homeless czar because there’s no real county strategy on the issue.

It’s the same board that just last week voted to expand an expensive internal oversight auditor at the Sheriff’s Department – soundly criticized by all sides for lack of focus or public outreach – to a broad array of government departments, like the district attorney, public defender, probation and social services…all in the name of public outreach.

Under the chairmanship of Supervisor Todd Spitzer – now entering its last two months – there have been lots of votes and directives on big issues from the dais.

Ethics panels, law enforcement oversight, animal shelters, homelessness…

It’s the follow-through that often seems to, well, fall through.

With county term limits, our politicians are increasingly focused on their next job – for Spitzer that’s district attorney in 2018 – so there’s little incentive for focusing on real sustained change at the county level.

And with the fifth floor at the County Hall of Administration increasingly becoming a way station for the state legislature (we currently have three ex-supervisors as state senators), it’s likely that we’re going to see more and more historic votes to do major things that look really substantive but aren’t or much worse, actually enable boondoggles.

Taxpayers need to demand more than just big votes.

Don’t let supervisors tell you just that because they vote to buy a building that they have anything resembling a strategy for combating homelessness.

Note that Tuesday’s vote won’t do anything to solve the hundreds of homeless people aimlessly congregating at the civic center.

It will be the height of irony that day to watch supervisors look out at opponents of the homeless shelter from behind their dais and tell them they can’t be NIMBYs, they have to pitch in for the collective good. They need to trust in government.

They’ll remind nervous neighbors about all the public outreach done on the county plan to parachute a homeless services site into their area. They’ll promise that the county plans on staying focused on the site to ensure the best transition.

Yet how will these Anaheim residents react to those assurances, after showing up and seeing what the county civic center looks like?

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If this is what the county civic center looks like – an area historically zoned for institutional uses like homeless services and choc full of government agencies – how are Anaheim shelter opponents to be calmed, much less inspired?

Supervisors need to start focusing on their own backyard as a way of showing other jurisdictions what is possible, not what is deplorable.

Right now, the only policy leadership supervisors are showing nearby city leaders is how to look the other way while your lawn turns into a lawless campsite.

They could instead demonstrate how to take public spaces – like the abandoned Orange County Transportation Agency bus terminal – and transform them into organized check-in centers, with an ability to store items, sleep, bathe, use the toilet and work on a plan to get back to self-sufficiency or some sort of public-assisted stability.

If they had done their homework – the bus shelter has been empty for a half dozen years – supervisors could proudly walk any doubter at Tuesday’s hearing right across the street to the old abandoned bus terminal and show them the county expertise in handling homeless outreach, sheltering and transitioning.

Instead, county supervisors will greet Tuesday’s guests with metal detectors.

  • Jacki Livingston

    The bottom line in all of this is clear. To quote Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming”, and thousands of men, women and children need someplace to get out of the cold. If it isn’t a shelter, you can best believe it will be the doorways of your businesses, empty offices or other inconvenient and potentially dangerous locations. Todd Spitzer and his crew are the King Joffreys in all of this. They lord over all of us the same way, waving and commanding, but never leading. They never get down in the trenches. I worked at SSA for 14 years, and I never one time saw Spitzer in any of the offices where clients are seen, least of all the Central Regional Office that gets the worst of it. I have never seen Joffrey/Todd actually talking to homeless, to find out what the issues are, and he sure as H never came and talked to us, the people who work with them. He is isolated and protected, to the point where he is so out of touch, there is no way he can lead. Hey, Toddy? Ever see what happened to King Joffrey? It wasn’t pretty, my man, so get a grip and find a place for THIS winter, for THESE people. Remember this, Spitzer, there are a lot more of them than there are of YOU. Do the math, and let them eat cake some more, pal. Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. Guillotine, anyone?

  • Jacki Livingston

    I thought better of you, Norberto. You assume that the population at Civic Center represents the majority of the homeless. That group is an anomaly. Most homeless are just like you and me, but they had no support system to fall back on. These self involved, self serving NIMBY worshipers assume that their wittle neighborhoods are too good for those dirty old bums. I have news for them…and you. The people they should fear? Meth dealers, child molesters, wife beaters and other scum who are dangerous actually live next door. Most homeless are good people in bad times. Stop perpetuating the misinformation and downright lies, and get your facts straight. Also, there is no SSA offices downtown in Santa Ana. Downtown Santa Ana cannot work.

    • While I agree with much of what you say, OC Social Services has offices around the corner from the civic center. That’s irrelevant since opening the old Transportation Center as a homeless outreach, as Norberto suggests would, by it’s very nature require social service (and veteran service office) presence. A single homeless shelter will not relieve much. The solution would include multiple, multi-service shelters and centers throughout the county to help those who want to be helped while understanding that there are just some who will remain homeless by choice. And, a great many of those are mentally ill

      • Jacki Livingston

        No, Jeff, there is not an SSA office around the corner. The building you speak of was the admin office, not a service office and they have moved that to Anaheim. I worked for SSA for fourteen years, until July, so I know this. There is no SSA office within walking distance to downtown. Furthermore, your assumptions about the population of homeless is incorrect.

        • I stand corrected – on the SSA office. However, don’t assume because you worked for SSA that you are the only knowledgeable person on the subject. In my field, I dealt with the aftermath of homelessness as well as the mentally ill.

          The bottom line is, a “strategy” is in front of them with the use of the old Transportation Center as anhomeless checkin centermthat will give those living in that area a better chance of survival, as much as a shelter will.

          • Jacki Livingston

            That is all well and good, but right now, today, they need a roof. Pure and simple. Waiting around for the BoS to figure out a “strategy” is an exercise in futility, because those idiots couldn’t strategize their way out of a wet paper bag with a hacksaw and a chainsaw. Winter is coming.

          • Jacki Livingston

            I never said I was. You did that. I said that my experience on both sides of the desk gave me a unique perspective. That old bus station is next door to the HCA offices, where county employees go for physicals, return to work, etc…and there is no way that the County powers that be are going to go for that. Never. Going. To. Happen. They would never deign to actually get that close to the homeless.

  • Gunny98

    Have any of you ever worked with and or had to deal with a mentally ill homeless person? You cannot mandate that they clean up and live a traditional life. Unless they can be held against their will, some people will always be homeless. If I’m wrong, prove it.

    • David Zenger

      “Have any of you ever worked with and or had to deal with a mentally ill homeless person?”

      The answer, of course is a resounding “no.” Still the “experts” and the politicians are perfectly willing to pursue an agenda that is:

      1) Impractical
      2) Expensive
      3) Permanent

      For this they get a wall to put a bronze plaque on, or an opportunity to salve their bourgeois guilt and nothing is remotely improved.

      Karen Roper and Todd Spitzer and Kris Murray need to live a week or two among the homeless off Carl Karcher Way. Their education would be amazing and it wouldn’t cost us a dime.

      • Where’s Chris Norby when you need him?

        • David Zenger

          At a motel near the Fullerton Airport?

    • Jacki Livingston

      I have. Some are that way. Most homeless are not a) mentally ill or b) deviant. Stop perpetuating the false cliches.

  • UnitedWeStand

    “The County plans to add 896 beds by October 2019 to the existing 1,200 beds at the expanding 120 acre Musick jail in South Orange County. Also planned are new visitor and staff parking areas, a new entrance off Alton Parkway and
    space for enhanced rehabilitation services, including social services, health care and education programs.” Ah………the homeless would apparently get better care if they were in prison in Orange County!!!!

    • Maybe that’s the idea…

    • LFOldTimer

      I wonder if they’re going to add a pool and racketball courts and lawn croquet to the Musick facility? Perhaps they should post a big sign above the entrance door “Crime Pays” as an advertisement for the downtrodden? Beats the heck out of sleeping under a bridge.

  • Jasenn Zaejian

    Given statements from national and local leaders of the GOP, what more can you expect from a basically sadistic, self-centered culture of keeping the impoverished and non-white citizens in their place? For to give them a decent life, resources, and education would certainly threaten the GOP political base. They might then be seen like St. Exupry’s (sp?) tale of the emperor with no clothes.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Oh, it goes deeper than that. The ownership of a home in the OC is basically indentured servitude. These overpriced heaps of junk force it’s owners to spend ridiculous sums for sub-par real estate. It gives them an over-inflated sense of entitlement, that they think they are better than others. The laughable irony is that they put on their Gucci and Prada, and troop into their megachurches run by people who fleece their flocks so they can travel in private jets. They delude themselves and their offspring into thinking they are good citizens and Christians. But let a poor or homeless person show up, and they freak out like turkeys in a diamond store, not knowing where to turn. In order for this whole house of cards to work, they have to label and demonize the poor and homeless into boogeymen, to call them drug addicts, deviants and crazies. This while they guzzle their martinis, smoke their Camels and pop their Valium, and convince themselves that in the us versus them wars, they are the valiant and noble winners. Most of them don’t realize that it could happen to them, tomorrow.

  • That’s the point. Building a shelter 15 miles away is not even a beginning to the solution. It’snamscapegoat, in fact, as the Supes will then be allowed to continue to ignore the real homeless issues and point their colective fingers north whenever someone asks what they are doing about the homeless. Santana has it right; fix the problem by starting in your own backyard first.

  • Charles Mooney

    Support the shelter as a first step.

    • David Zenger

      The first step takes you out of the airplane, too. Got a parachute?

    • Jacki Livingston

      Amen

  • David Zenger

    “After months of outreach”

    Demanding sanctimoniously that people sit down and shut up isn’t outreach. It’s outpunch. I love the County’s ham-fisted press release: if you leave the room (your room, owned by you and your fellow citizens) you won’t be let back in – so you’d better use the bathroom at 8:45 and then hold it in.

    See those uniformed goons in the back? They’re getting ready to f you up if you don’t obey.

    Oh, and yeah, tasty light refreshment on sale on the lobby. Proceeds to buy more Brasso for Todd.

    P.S. Regarding homeless shelter: Building 16 has been sitting EMPTY for 25 years; the Civic center homeless pee against its walls.

    • Jacki Livingston

      They cannot use that building. They need to have an SSA office nearby and they have to have long reach bus routes. There is no SSA offices in the area of the Civic Center, any more.

      • David Zenger

        And what do they have now in the Civic Center?

        • Jacki Livingston

          A big mess? There is nothing there. I believe that there used to be a food or soup kitchen there. But the SSA admin building used to be on Main Street, but not any longer.

          • David Zenger

            You sound a lot like Todd Spitzer cooking up reasons not to do something. SO PUT A FREAKING SSA OFFICE IN THE CIVIC CENTER instead of building a homeless shelter near an SSA office ten miles away.

            The rain is coming.

          • Jacki Livingston

            There used to be one, David. But the elite folks at SSA higher management found it “uncomfortable” and “inconvenient” to have to deal with those poor folk when they came to work, every day, in their cars that they get $765 per month in expense money for. They left the ghetto for an ivory…well, glass, tower across from Angel Stadium, so they didn’t have to trip over a homeless veteran with his skull cut open from eyebrow to neckline, after he took debris from a bomb into his skull. Mike Ryan, himself, lobbied to get their offices out, to a secure location, because the poor at the Civic Center would come in there to complain when they were not being heard. Now they are in a gorgeous suite of offices in a glass high rise, where no one bothers them.

            Many workers, including myself, offered to man a table or a van or something at the Civic Center. They refused. Most of the new buildings they are building are beautiful, and not one client is allowed to enter any of them. There is one at State College and Katella, in fact. You think the residents hate having the homeless? I assure you, the upper management of the Social Services Agency hate them more. When I started with the County, I had a senior manager tell me I should never let anyone find out I was a client, or had been homeless. She said that admin frowned on “those people” being allowed to fraternize with them.

            True fax, there.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Do you seriously think that the Civic Center is the only place with homeless? And, puhleeze…Mike Ryan would never deign to put an office where he would actually have to deal with the homeless from the Civic Center. The guy never went to the nearest office to there, across Santa Ana. He put them in a glass tower in Anaheim specifically to get away from the masses of humanity.

        • Jacki Livingston

          Nada