Andrew Do Caught in “Homeless Crack House” Scandal (updated 8/25/2017)




Just in case you have not yet seen the now infamous video that recently caught County Supervisor Andrew Do saying that giving homes to homeless people would be like “giving them crack houses,” there’s a link to the video provided for you at the end of this article. But, either way if you have seen the video or not, I want to recommend that you finish reading this article first. The narrative that I hope to establish here might help you to view the story in a little different perspective based on my own personal experience and moderately qualified opinion. 

The video was captured by homeless advocate Wes Jones last week at a town hall meeting in Garden Grove where Supervisor Do had scheduled to speak with his constituents. The video was then posted by another homeless advocate, Mohammed Aly on August 19th, which is where I first became aware of the incident.

This particular version of the video begins with Matt Bates from CityNet giving his explanation of what “Housing First” means. Matt does a great job and gives a qualified and accurate description of what housing first means, but Matt also seemed a little bit out his element. I have listened to Matt speak more than a dozen times, but this time in particular he sounded like perhaps he was under some kind of pressure.

I spoke with Matt after a meeting this morning, Friday August 25th, and after speaking with him regarding the incident and he may have had an idea of Do’s position on housing first prior to that, but certainly in no way did Matt have any clue that Do would deliver his message in the manner that it was done.

I have no reason not to believe Matt Bates, so I decided to edit this article later Friday evening after speaking with Matt in order to focus more attention on exactly what Supervisor Do said under the presumption that readers of this article were seeing and hearing about the incident for the very first time.

Now, let’s go back to the video and pick up where Matt finishes speaking about housing first and Supervisor Do begins his ridiculous rant of reckless rhetoric.

After Matt Bates finishes talking about housing first, Andrew Do gets on the mike and says, “I do question some of the housing first assumptions under that model…”

I don’t know which model Do is referring to. The only housing first model that I am aware of, is the one Matt had just talked about a few minutes before. Apparently, Andrew Do has his own housing first model, but it ain’t the one that you and I are familiar with. Next, Do continues by qualifying himself according to his experience having in the past represented “indigent defendants” as a public defender for four years and a prosecutor for eight.

Any homeless guy that has been in trouble before with the law will tell you that “indigent defendant” are code words  that public defenders and prosecutors use for “poor homeless guy waives right to speedy trial and takes ridiculous plea bargain.”

“I’ve seen things from both sides…,” says Do. Referring to his experience as a prosecutor and public defender. “If we were to subscribe to the housing first model and people are not ready for housing, the housing we give them…we provide them with crack houses…it will be flop houses that’s a reality.”

Andrew Do admits being a “novice” and having only 2 and-a-half years experience dealing with homelessness, but goes on to say this. “When I first started working on a model for homelessness for the county, I looked at a lot of different models across the country… ”

I just want to know, who told him to work on a new model? Why was he not informed that the county already a plan for ending homelessness that they themselves created and the model that is that plan, is modeled after the same housing first model endorsed by the federal government? Any other housing model, including Andrew Do’s would be contingent to approval by the feds as a requirement of federal law as a condition of receiving federal funds for ending homelessness.

The truth is, Andrew Do never liked the housing first idea from the beginning when he was elected. That would mean that he had zero experience with homelessness, never did like the notion of providing homeless persons’ with housing, wanted to implement his own model for addressing homelessness and the remainder of the Board allowed him to do it. They are every one of them criminally negligent and I would love to see fraud thrown in there somewhere as well. Come on, I know there are a lot of lawyers out there. I really think we have something here, maybe it’s not enough to put anyone in jail or litigate, but there is certainly enough evidence to ask for a federal investigation.

Now, on to Andrew Do’s next ridiculous gaffe.

“We have, like I mentioned earlier, about 2200 individuals homeless, outside and unhoused each night and she (Susan Price) always said that there are 2200 solutions, but there are no solutions to be coming for two people much less 2200,” says Do.

Now, let’s just cast aside the hurtful and hateful remarks that Andrew Do directed towards homeless people during the course of this video, and cut right down to the bare facts.

Supervisor Do claims that there are 2200 unsheltered homeless individuals in Orange County. That may have been true in 2015, but the early results from the Point in Time Survey taken this past January indicate that there were as many as 2,550 counted more recently. That accounts for an 11% difference and surely a public official would want to use the most accurate information available to inform his public. Heck, I downloaded my information from the county website. There is no excuse for him, he has a staff that could do the same for him that I did for myself. See for yourself

Since Do was elected in 2014, the numbers of visibly homeless people here have increased by about 15%. Since that time, the county has received over $60M in federal aid for ending homelessness and all we have to show for that federal money is an open-air, makeshift homeless shelter that still resembles an abandoned bus terminal more than a safe, secure and healthy place to live. We also have a year-round emergency homeless shelter, the first ever owned by the county, that opened just this past month of May nearly a year behind schedule and only half of the proposed beds are currently available. The facility still has no permanent restrooms or showers.

Andrew Do loves to take credit for his part in turning the abandoned OCTA bus terminal near the Santa Ana Civic Center into a place that legally allows 400 homeless people to sleep on the floor of one giant garage floor, but few people remember when John Moorlach who is now a State Senator, first introduced the idea when he was Chairman of the BOS and Chairman of the OC Commission to End Homelessness. Moorlach’s plan drew harsh criticism from his colleagues on the BOS and from the City of Santa Ana, so the idea never got off the ground.

Let me explain why I mentioned that Do’s comments could have have negative consequences for our county. The County Continuum of Care (CoC) has received more than a quarter billion dollars over the past twenty years in federal aid to end homelessness. All you have to do is look around and see that visible homelessness has increased exponentially during those twenty years. One might say that our county has not been prudent in the ways they have spent that money, given the results, and they might be absolutely right.

The feds have certain requirements that go along with accepting the money and they have reasonable expectations that the county will be committed to meeting the federal goal of ending homelessness. The two things that top the list of federal requirements are number one: execute the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness that the county established  in 2010 and number two: the feds want our county to adopt the Housing First Model.

The county has done very little towards ending homelessness here, and they are far from reaching the objectives of the Ten-Year Plan, but the county has held out its’ hands and taken more and more federal money year after year. It’s difficult to understand how the county has gotten away with underhanding the feds in the past, but that’s all coming to an end real soon.

Times are changing. There’s a new administration in Washington that seeks to cut federal aid for things like Section 8 housing and homelessness. Less funding on the table means that applying for whatever funds are available will be extremely competitive. Low-performing CoC’s may be spit out of luck and Orange County is definitely a low-performing CoC if there ever was one.

And to top it off, we have a loose cannon like Andrew Do running around spouting off and denouncing the Housing First model and saying things like “no solutions are coming for 2 people much less 2200” is entirely irresponsible, especially for a man that is not only Vice-Chairman of our Board of Supervisors, but also serves on the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness. I don’t see how HUD would not find Do’s behavior acceptable at all.

I think that Do’s constituents have made it clear to him that they may have elected him one time, but will not elect him again unless he shares their position on the issue of homelessness. Rather than taking the high road to great leadership, he has decided to take the lower path of least resistance, by pandering to his constituents. Do probably has aspirations for seeking a higher office in the future and that might explain his inexplicable change in behavior, but that is in no way grounds for throwing homeless people under the bus.

The thing that concerns me the most is the spewing of hatred towards homeless people in his remarks and it negatively impacts the public perspective of homelessness. If our leaders openly disrespect and treat our homeless people as if they were sub-human, then that sets the standard for how they should be treated by the general public. For this reason it is sufficient to say that Andrew Do is derelict of duty and may perhaps be in violation of his oath of office for not protecting the people he is sworn to serve.

I believe that Andrew Do has really presented our county with a whole new homeless problem and I think his remarks are going to hurt everyone. Without the necessary funding that would place chronically homeless people in permanent supportive housing according to the Housing First model, it will take a mountain of taxpayers money to make them disappear either by way of providing housing or by litigation.

Andrew Do says there are 2200 unsheltered homeless people in Orange County. I predict that there will be nearly twice that amount by 2020 at the current rate

There is an online petition asking for Andrew Do’s resignation from the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness.

Here’s he infamous “homeless crack houses” video.

About Tim Houchen