Supervisors Meeting on the Kraemer Homeless Shelter. UPDATE: County Approves Shelter. Press release.





A large number of advocates both for and against the Kraemer site, the proposed 200-bed, all-year homeless shelter in Anaheim, are expected to attend the special BOS meeting tomorrow November 17th. The purchase of the site will be considered and probably approved, opening a new phase for both advocate groups. Supporters of the shelter will have to do their best to make it work minimizing the concerns of the surrounding residents. Some of the opposition may appeal the county decision in the courts.

It is unfortunate that addressing homelessness provokes a confrontational response. A main reason in the OC experience is the type of solution. In many places a shelter is the yardstick  to consider whether a county or a city is doing something. In a few others, the shelter is no longer the immediate solution. Our local experts have determined that we are not ready for alternative solutions, and our policy makers at the county and city levels have adopted their recommendations.

There are negative and positive reports on the performance and impact of shelters, the negative being the most publicized. The plans for the management and operation of the proposed Kraemer shelter have incorporated many of the concerns expressed by the neighbors, and on paper looks like it could work. 200 people will have a chance not to be exposed to the projected harsh weather conditions, and hopefully they will start a plan not to be homeless again. The overflow and the safety impact still remain a serious concerns for the neighbors.  

The reaction to the shelter in Anaheim and in the area of Orange close to the proposed site, was managed based on the previous rejections. The shelter was going to be approved regardless of the reaction of the residents, in spite of the promises to include substantial involvement from the neighborhoods that would be near any shelter. The support and involvement of the faith-based organizations was much stronger, which made a convincing case for the unanimous support of the city council. The change of the much better Karcher site, already purchased by the city, made this shelter process even murkier.

The homeless crisis in Anaheim spilled over the parks, pitting residents using the parks and the police against the homeless. Councilwoman Lucille Kring was commended by these residents for her stance on the use of the parks by the homeless. These residents did not realize or mind that Ms Kring’s response was that her caring for the homeless was ultimately expressed by supporting the proposed shelter. The neighbors around the Kraemer site think that they should not be responsible for the entire Anaheim homeless population, even less for the entire county.

The charged reactions that homelessness provokes is unfortunate. It is even more unfortunate that homelessness occurs nowadays. Some people think that homelessness, as unemployment, is a normal part of our fabric as society. I rarely watch Fox TV, and when I watched the Housing First video in which clips of Fox news and commentators are featured, their arguments about homeless were the same I heard from some of the people strongly opposed to the shelter. Their opposition was mostly based on political views,  any government intervention and issues involving what they perceive as the poverty industry of the “do-gooders”, other than pragmatic concerns such as safety issues or neighborhood involvement or just plain compassion by presenting other feasible proposals .

Let’s hope that the shelter model works in OC, and even better, that the policy makers consider alternative solutions and a much more reasonable policy,  such as the establishment of temporary smaller shelters throughout the county. Let’s hope that the politicians supporting the shelter extend their commitment to end homelessness by addressing its root causes, including a living wage and affordable housing.

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  November 17, 2015 : County Approves Homeless Shelter Site in Anaheim

(Santa Ana, CA) — The Orange County Board of Supervisors will purchase an empty building in Anaheim as the site of a new 200-bed year-round emergency shelter and multiservice center to serve the homeless.

Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase the building and land at 1000 N.Kraemer Place in Anaheim. OC Community Resources, the department in charge of County housing programs, will solicit proposals for the development and operation of the shelter under rigorous security guidelines adopted by the Board, including prohibiting walk-in clients and those with criminal backgrounds.

“Today’s vote represents an historic achievement for Orange County,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer, who championed an inclusive process for community and city engagement for the project, which will be housed within his Third District. “We have a duty to help those who need our help. We can do this right and we can solve the problem of homelessness in our community.”

The process of identifying a year-round homeless shelter began five years ago under the stewardship of Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who represents the Fourth District and much of Anaheim. “This is a long overdue initiative that will benefit those most in need of support and provide them a center to retrieve essential services necessary to improve their lives,” Nelson said.

Eighty-five people spoke at the special meeting held to consider the property purchase, with more than twice as many speakers supporting the proposal than were opposed.

The County will pay $4.25 million for the 24,384 square-foot industrial warehouse and 12,842 square feet of office space, situated on about 1.87 acres with 68 parking spaces. The building, built in 1975, had been occupied by a commercial heating, ventilating and air conditioning contractor.

The cities of Anaheim and Fullerton contributed $500,000 each toward the project, with $100,000 coming from the city of Brea. The city councils of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, Orange and Placentia adopted resolutions in support.

An environmental review of the property found no substantial evidence that the proposed use would have a significant effect on the environment. A purchase and sale agreement was approved by the Board in June but a final vote was needed to execute the grant deed for the property.

The County has operated a seasonal armory shelter program in Fullerton and Santa Ana for the past 28 years. However, the armories were only open part of the year and only at night.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.