Helping the homeless… for 30 days


Voice of OC

Homeless man in the Santa Ana Riverbed

When driving by the 57 freeway past the Angels Stadium, you will no longer see hundreds of tents bordering the Santa Ana Riverbed. Why? About 400 homeless people in Orange County have been given vouchers to move from their temporary “homes” along the riverbed to motels for 30 days.

Homelessness has become an increasingly important issue in Santa Ana in the last decade. Not only has there been a lack of housing for these people who are unable to support themselves, but there is also a lack of resources.

With nowhere to go and no one to help them, homeless people have flooded the Santa Ana Riverbed in the past three years. In fact, according to the Orange County Register: “Homelessness in Orange County rose at a faster pace since 2015, ticking up nearly 8 percent since the last one-night census.”

Not only has the population of homeless increased, but their number of deaths has as well. In 2017 alone, at least 193 homeless people in Orange County died. Their death toll has dramatically spiked in the last three years, causing concern among the U.S. judiciary. It became apparent within the past few months that intervention needed to be made. This is how the relocation of hundreds of homeless people along the riverbed came into fruition.

On February 13 of this year an agreement was made on how to deal with this issue. Judge David O. Carter of the U.S. court decided on offering shelter for those living in the riverbed. 30-day vouchers for a stay at a motel or other location were given to hundreds of homeless people within a week. In addition, Carter hired outreach workers to connect homeless to needed services.Though this provides a temporary solution to the issue, the question is being raised as to what will happen after their vouchers expire.

The thought of helping those who need it is a considerate action on behalf of our representatives. However, a permanent solution is needed before our homeless population increases even more. The Orange County Register gave insight as to how a more reliable fix can be achieved: “There must be more collaborative efforts between localities and nonprofits and the private sector to help resolve this problem, including continued work with organizations like City Net. Criminalizing homelessness, mental illness and drug abuse is not a solution, and law enforcement practices should reflect that, pursuing programs to connect homeless offenders to services.”

Though efforts are currently being made, it is inevitable that those who received vouchers will have to return to their makeshift homes after the time is up. More outreach workers might be needed to connect homeless people to organizations that can help them. There are many that exist, but once again the lack of resources limits people’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities.