Orange County ignores CDC guidance to leave six feet of space between cots at its emergency homeless shelters. The Courtyard shelter has loaded four times the number of occupants than permitted by the building code. The Board of Supervisors must move immuno-compromised or elderly people from shelters to motels now.
We’re all consumed now by the Coronavirus. We’ve given up freedom of assembly and even of worship and yet we leave an immune-deficient population of thousands abandoned on the streets or crammed in “coffin boat” like warehouses. Don’t we realize that if we continue to do nothing, the Coronavirus will now be with us forever?
Another 23 people died “without fixed abode,” that is homeless in OC in January 2020. During this time, as always, there have been lights and shadows in terms of progress. The City of Fullerton approved 4-1 a new 150 bed Recuperative Care / Navigation Center for the homeless, while there have been rumblings about repurposing the County’s old Fairview Mental Health Facility to multipurpose development. Fr Kriz warns that if the Fairview Facility is diminished from its original purpose as a residential mental health facility, then it would be equivalent to saying that Orange County prefers to keep hundreds of its most afflicted, yes, at times most problematic people, sleeping on its streets rather than indoors where they can be helped.
Orange County based reporter and documentary producer John Underwood writes that even for a reporter familiar with the homeless communities of Orange County assumptions about the unhoused, who they are and what we think we know about them can often fall terribly short of the truth, as this reporter discovered one day while serving up meals to a group of homeless who served him up a lesson on the fine points of giving thanks.
It is time for the Orange County Board of Supervisors to recognize that homelessness is a countywide problem and that the City of Santa Ana has gone above and beyond to do its part. Other cities must share the responsibility, and the County should not build its proposed replacement shelter on Yale Street in Santa Ana.
Fr. Dennis Kriz, pastor of St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Fullerton, writes that there are viable solutions to help the homeless find housing but it will require participation by those that own rental properties and willingness of elected official to put in place needed ordinances.
Callie Rutter, a lifelong resident of Orange County writes about her personal twist of fate and the harsh reality of finding herself homeless coupled with having to fight cancer. In spite of her personal struggles, her compassion and courage has led her to become an advocate for the human rights of people experiencing homelessness.
Fr. Dennis Kriz, pastor of St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Fullerton, writes that the county has about 1/3 of the beds needed to shelter its 7000-10000 homeless population. People continue to die on the street. In November, another 19 died without a fixed abode.