Supervisor Spends a Night at Bus Terminal Homeless Shelter

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Supervisor Andrew Do spent the night last Thursday at the abandoned bus terminal in downtown Santa Ana that the county has converted into a homeless shelter and service center.

Do’s First District includes the heart of Santa Ana, where the homeless population at the county Civic Center has reached crisis proportions. The bus terminal shelter, which is adjacent to the Civic Center and opened last week, is the county’s short-term response to years of complaints about the situation from homeless advocates, county workers and the media.

Officially called the Courtyard Transitional Center, it is a place where homeless people can eat, use restroom facilities, store their belongings, talk to county Social Service Agency workers about services available to them, and bed down for the night.

Do, who is running for reelection this year and has been among the most vocal supervisors in favor of the center, decided Thursday to head down to the facility to see for himself how the new operation was running.

He arrived around 9:50, ten minutes before the shelter closes its gates for the evening.

Do said the process was “painless” and staff from The Midnight Mission, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit running the center, only asked for his name.

“The funny thing is, I actually went there hungry because I didn’t have time to have dinner,” Do said.  “I had to ask for something to eat, so they found some crackers for me from their stash…for people who come after meal hours.”

Do said the operation was orderly and the staff — even before they realized who he was, treated him in a “courteous and welcoming” manner.

“I never once felt fear for my safety,” he said.

Do said he was among 85 to 90 people who slept at the shelter Thursday night. By Sunday, there were 148 people staying overnight, he said. The shelter has a capacity of 300 beds.

Do slept on a mat on the floor with two blankets given to him by shelter staff. By 4 a.m., the terminal was very cold and windy, he said.

“I learned a lot,” Do said. “We have  a large portion [of the terminal] that doesn’t have overhead cover, so when the rainy season comes, it might limit the ability to make use of the place.”

Although the service center has been largely received as a positive step to help the homeless while the county works on long-term solutions, some have been critical of the experiment and whether it will only encourage nonprofits to drop off homeless individuals at the bus terminal in Santa Ana.

Others are worried that the conditions at the bus terminal are subpar.

Asked about those criticisms, Do bristled and said the Transitional Center — now open for less than a week — is not meant to be the only solution.

“But we’re still getting a lot of the amenities up and running, shower a facility, and laundryso it doesn’t give us much time to do construction,” said Do. “So let’s not use words like criticism.”

He said the service center is an unprecedented action by the county, and part of a comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness countywide.

“Nobody has done this before, so no one is going to have an answer,” said Do. “And I believe this is a good beginning.”

Members of the public give feedback at a town hall event this Saturday at Board of Supervisors’ hearing room at the Hall of Administration, 333 West Santa Ana Boulevard.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo. 

  • RITCHIE VALENS

    County Supervisor a No-Show at Mental Health Board Meetings …
    voiceofoc.org
    https://voiceofoc.org/…/supervisor-a-no-show-at-mental-health-board- meetings/County Supervisor a No-Show at Mental Health Board Meetings …
    May 24, 2016 … Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do sits on the county’s Mental Health Board, which is charged with evaluating how officials manage a large …
    He is concerned so much about our homeless population which consists of many individuals suffering from mental illnesses, that he spent the night at the Bus terminal. This shows how much you really are concerned of the whole problem, DO.
    This person you are all seeing, won’t even give a quarter to a homeless person asking for money, out in the streets. What a shame.

  • Paul Lucas

    Ill give the guy credit for this demonstration. Acts not words as the saying goes.

  • RITCHIE VALENS

    Wow, I actually think what Do did was a good……OH shut up. What better way to better your chances in getting re-elected. “Do slept on a mat on the floor with two blankets given to him by shelter staff. By 4 a.m., the terminal was very cold and windy, he said”. What did he expect to be sunny and warm. Please cut this mumbo jumbo bs….Oh he slept on a mat, let me tell you something you’re not making no one feel sorry for you. Mat? people sleep on dirt, rocks, out on the streets and you want to get recognize for this. I am really surprised that the voiceoc would waste their time in trying to pass this garbage on to us. Yes what better way to advocate for our homeless by stuffing them under the administration offices for mental health. And most of these individuals suffer from mental illnesses. I do see that at least we are trying but we need to do much more. But the sad thing is that only when things get really bad, is when individuals take action. That doesn’t impress me, make a change now without having to do it by force. Or because we have let things get much worse. I’m going to do what Do did and after I will contact you and tell you my experience. But please don’t be biased, if you wrote an article on him. Write one on me, unless you were some how influence by some unknown entity to write this to boost his status. Bus Terminal, no worries i’ll leave my heater at home.

  • annomouse

    Wow, I actually think what Do did was a good thing and I would hope the other BOS members would follow suit.
    The criticism that it’s just a publicity stunt for the up coming election doesn’t diminish the value of the perspective Do gained.

    Also, I’m interested as a taxpayer in OC in hearing about his experience, what “value” would his not sharing this information with the public bring?

    Cynical posturing is what’s really valueless.

    Let’s not demean the good impulses our public officials have just because they were not executed to … perfection.

    • LFOldTimer

      Your 2 complimentary tickets to the BoS holiday party will be ready for pick-up in the morning/sarc.

      • RITCHIE VALENS

        LMAO

    • David Zenger

      “…what “value” would his not sharing this information with the public bring?”

      Okay, what “value” did it bring? Other than Do getting his name in the on-line media. Please be specific.

      I’m demeaning the impulse because it was based (as always) on self-aggrandizement and promotion, and had nothing to do with goodness.

      I doubt if this article will have one scintilla of positive effect on anybody, least of all the homeless.

      • annomouse

        I will be specific.

        I learned that the place is cold, that part of the facility doesn’t have a roof, that folks sleep on the floor and not cots (everyone? not sure), but that it is clean and safe.
        I would hope that Do after spending the night there would push for heaters, a temporary or permanent covering for the roof and/ or wind barriers and also cots and maybe some government cheese to go with the crackers. I would also think that by going public with his experience that he might have some support from the public if he pushes for money for those improvements.
        Also, I think I might donate some blankets.

        Value is very subjective, IMO information has value. I personally don’t want to spend the night at the bus depot and I am happy to read about it second hand. I don’t know what Supervisor Do will do with the information he gained from his experience in staying at the bus depot, but I’m hoping he puts it to good use. That being said I know that Do is a Republican and I probably don’t agree with him on much, but I am not so much of an asshole that when someone does a good thing, the right thing, that I can’t acknowledge and applaud them for the effort. Our public servants are people after all and as such appreciate a pat on the back once in a while. We should encourage good work and impulses because it’s too damn easy to always criticize. And on that note, what value has your cynical criticism added to this conversation? Please be specific.

      • annomouse

        I will be specific.

        I learned that the place is cold, that part of the facility doesn’t have a roof, that folks sleep on the floor and not cots (everyone? not sure), but that it is clean and safe.
        I would hope that Do after spending the night there would push for heaters, a temporary or permanent covering for the roof and/ or wind barriers and also cots and maybe some government cheese to go with the crackers. I would also think that by going public with his experience that he might have some support from the public if he pushes for money for those improvements.
        Also, I think I might donate some blankets.

        Value is very subjective, IMO information has value. I personally don’t want to spend the night at the bus depot and I am happy to read about it second hand. I don’t know what Supervisor Do will do with the information he gained from his experience in staying at the bus depot, but I’m hoping he puts it to good use. That being said I know that Do is a Republican and I probably don’t agree with him on much, but I am not so partisan that when someone does a good thing, the right thing, that I can’t acknowledge and applaud them for the effort. Our public servants are people after all and as such appreciate a pat on the back once in a while. We should encourage good work and impulses because it’s too easy to always criticize. And on that note, what value has your cynical criticism added to this conversation? Please be specific.

        • David Zenger

          One would have thought that all the manifest deficiencies of that space – no enclosed walls, no continuous roof, etc., etc., were well understood by anybody with an average intelligence, especially one who had taken the time to pander this thing for all the publicity it was worth and had spent millions of public money in its acquisition.

          If Do was ignorant of these things it was because he was deliberately not paying attention to something he publicly advertised as his Big Accomplishment. This is not at all unusual. Our “supervisors” love taking credit for stuff after they have dumped the whole mess (and the attendant details) on to “staff” and have moved on to the next crisis du jour.

          Do can look out his office window and see the open gates and the roofless part of this “facility.” No points for grandstanding.

          Our “public servants” (who’s working for whom, I often wonder) don’t just appreciate, they adore pats on the back. They live for them, in fact – with the implicit understanding that votes go along with the pats. I’ve never seen a group of politicians who were more driven toward self-advertisement.

          Unlike our posturing supervisors, I don’t pretend that my observations (cynical, or otherwise) add any value to anything, because you’re right about one thing: value is very subjective.

          And thanks for the blanket, when you drop it off.

          • annomouse

            Well, often times it actually takes experiencing hardship before one can truly appreciate exactly what it means.

            This bus depot is at least a step in the right direction. I’m sure it’s easy for you ( I’m assuming that you’re not homeless ) to disparage even small improvements, you’re not living on the street.

            And so, the bus depot shelter isn’t perfect. What should be done? Scrap it or should we try and improve it? I at least am giving Do the benefit of the doubt that he wants to fix it. As for Do’s “self-aggrandizement”, that’s truly laughable as probably only a small handful of people have even read this article.

            I would say that our “posturing supervisors” have at least finally done something and a positive public response might actually encourage them to do more. Your cynical posturing on the other hand achieves nothing, other than I presume reinforcing your sense of moral superiority. I’m sure the homeless given the choice between “postures” would choose the imperfect bus depot.

          • LFOldTimer

            One night of hardship a few weeks before his election day with a VOC reporter by his side? ha. And this happened only after John & Ken with a listening audience of over 1,000,000 lambasted county government for sitting on this for years.

            So please, stop it.

          • annomouse

            I don’t think any rational person expected that Do would spend weeks at the bus depot, one night is better than none and is probably enough time to assess its deficiencies.
            What does it matter where his good impulse came from? So what, if John and Ken were the driving factor, he did it and that’s what matters.
            Yeah, the BOS have been derelict in dealing with the homeless issue, but why criticize now that they’ve made this small start?
            The USEFUL response from the public would be to give them kudos for this small beginning and pressure them to do more going forward.

            Constant nitpicking and sniping will get nothing accomplished.

          • LFOldTimer

            Motivation is everything.

            A used car salesmen will treat you like a princess right up until the time you sign the sales contract. After he hands you the keys and the lemon laws expire you’ll be lucky if he takes your phone call.

            How much life experience do you have, annomouse? Just curious?

          • annomouse

            No, results are everything.

          • RITCHIE VALENS

            THEY DID IT BY FORCE, WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU.
            Look if the problem wasn’t as huge as it is now, nothing nothing! would be down. Why because I have been here all my life. And downtown didn’t look that bad and did not have so many homeless living out there a few years ago. Even though we had homeless issues it wasn’t that bad. But what happened? Our supervisors didn’t do nothing about taking care of it back then. And now that it is a major issue that it’s affecting employees who work all around the downtown area and the homeless population has increased dramatically, now they want to take action. Who will get the biggest medal, who will get the biggest bonus? who will receive a nice pad in the back? who will be promoted? stay tuned for the next episode

        • RITCHIE VALENS

          give it up, please just be quiet. Davie is right and I am support his comment 100% its all BS propaganda to get little do re-elected. People suffer beyond what you can imagine and you want me to be like, “WOW, I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I AM HEARING A SUPERVISOR SLEEPING WITH THE HOMELESS?” SORRY THAT IT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.
          DAVID DON’T LET ANNOMOUSE DIVERT YOU FROM THE TRUTH. ITS A DO SUPPORTER.

  • astar2b

    That will get him re-elected… How about the rest of the BoS?

  • David Zenger

    “So let’s not use words like criticism.”

    Heaven forfend!

  • LFOldTimer

    Oh my God. ha. Politicians say and do the darndest things during election season. He must be in a tight race with Martinez. Otherwise such a high-brow man would have never lowered himself to these superficial antics. This is a reason people despise politicians. Phony acts of self-interest.

    Why doesn’t Do invite a couple of those homeless folks to move into his home for 6 months?

    Figure the odds.

    Bring on Nov 08 so afterwards we don’t have to watch or listen to all the phony drama and theatrics for another 2 years.

    • David Zenger

      You know, if they guy really were sincere in wanting to know what the place was like overnight in order to help it run better, I would compliment his effort.

      However, the dead giveaway that this was really just a publicity stunt is the fact that (somehow, wonder how) the tale of this was fed to the media. Why was that necessary?

      • LFOldTimer

        Moreso, why would the press even bother reporting it knowing it was a publicity stunt during election season?

        It takes a village.

        • David Zenger

          Yes, Unfortunately, the Voice and the BOS are now joint custodians of this project.

          • LFOldTimer

            I did a cursory search of the Register’s website. I found nothing about it. And that goes to their credit.

            Oh, and did you happen to read that the OC Sheriff’s Union donated $86,000 to Do’s campaign fund? ha.

            Do the math and connect the dots.

            Do has been a good servant.

          • David Zenger

            Quid pro quo.

            SOP.

            And the public is SOL.

          • LFOldTimer

            Yep. And to that I say KMA.

      • Rivett

        Maybe he figures it’s better to have people talking about the night he spent at a homeless shelter rather than the nights he spends at his house on Beverly Glen in North Tustin, which for those who are playing along, is not in the 1st district.

        • LFOldTimer

          I wonder if he’s entitled to per-diem for the night at the homeless shelter?

          There must be something in the county regs buried deep in the fine print that would justify it.

          Maybe they could take it out of the Homeless Task Force budget.