An abandoned bus terminal at the Orange County Civic Center appears to be on the verge of being used for what many advocates – and some elected officials – have long hoped for: a homeless services center.

The bus terminal, which lies right next to where hundreds of homeless people live in the Civic Center, is up for a closed session discussion Tuesday by county supervisors.  They’re considering whether to have the county government buy the terminal from the Orange County Transportation Authority.

At the same meeting, supervisors will talk about plans to protect homeless people — especially those encamped in the Santa Ana River bed — from expected El Niño storms. 

Up for action is approval of up to $500,000 for temporary emergency beds and services for homeless during the El Niño season, with county staff running a competitive bidding process to pick a contractor to provide the services.

Meteorologists say this could become the most powerful El Niño ever recorded. A major concern is that the heavy rains will turn the largely concrete riverbed into a raging river that drowns homeless people who live there.

During a day-long trip last week, county officials counted 440 homeless people in the riverbed.

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

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