Fr. Dennis Kriz, pastor of St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Fullerton, provides a count of those who died without a fixed abode in Orange County in May. He also questions how shelters are being funded, why more housing units are not being built and why tax incentives are not created to help with the homeless population.
Santa Ana is moving ahead to open a new 200-bed homeless shelter by the end of the year, following unanimous Santa Ana City Council approval of a one year operations contract. The location hasn’t been announced.
The shortage of affordable housing in Orange County sent eight homeless people back to the streets last week, because homes weren’t available before they hit the 180-day limit for them to stay at the county’s “Bridges at Kraemer Place” shelter that prepares people to move into housing.
County officials were upbeat at a public forum Saturday morning, painting the picture of an energized and proactive government eager to tackle the increasingly dire straits of the county’s homeless population.
Igmar Rodas, an outspoken member of the homeless community at the downtown Santa Ana Civic Center, spent a week chronicling his visits to the homeless shelter and service center the county just opened at the old downtown bus terminal.
While there is wide support for a year-round shelter, a close look at county statements raises questions regarding whether the county will no longer fund seasonal shelters once the year-round shelter is up and running.
While Mercy House has been the go-to homeless services provider for local governments, the organization and its executive director, Larry Haynes, face harsh criticism at the street level. Haynes says he’s working on strengthening his relationships with people in the trenches.