About 25 members of Occupy Santa Ana Tuesday began a planned seven-day protest of police ticketing homeless people at the Civic Center in Santa Ana by setting up a campsite on a patch of grass near Ross Street.
A city law makes it illegal to camp at the Civic Center, which has long been a gathering spot for Orange County’s homeless population. Members of the group, including some who were planning to camp overnight, said the law is harsh and discriminatory because homeless people don’t have other options.
Tuesday, members called nearly two-dozen shelters throughout Orange County and found that there were no emergency beds available.
Davina Stein, 25, said that the homeless shelters in the county are specialized for specific groups of people, such as pregnant teens and recovering alcoholics. “You have to fit through the eye of a needle to qualify for one of the programs available,” Stein said. For the general population there is nowhere to go, she said.
Stein estimated that there are about 250 homeless people sharing the Civic Center grass and concrete on any given night.
Stein should know. She had been homeless for three years, she said, spending one of those years sleeping under a county building’s lighted doorway with her husband and dog.
The Orange County Commission to End Homelessness is considering a proposal by county Supervisor John Moorlach that a new shelter be opened at the former Civic Center bus terminal. Santa Ana officials, however, have so far thwarted moves by the county to purchase the terminal.
As of Wednesday morning, police officers had not ticketed any protesters or homeless people at the Civic Center site, according to protester Alicia Rojas.