Homeless Shelters, versus Animal Shelters.




At their March 13 meeting, the OC Board of Supervisors (BOS) seemed to think it would be satisfactory to relocate all our homeless residents currently in motels directly to shelter beds.  That would be both unacceptable and impossible.

There are over 700 residents in motels who are ready to go into “Permanent Supportive Housing” (PSH), but BOS inaction over the last decade has resulted in a serious shortage of this necessary housing.

The only shelter beds that have been added since late February are 90 new beds at Kramer. We’ve got approximately 700 people currently housed in motels. A kindergartner could do the math and tell you there’s a significant problem here.

We do, however, have a new animal shelter built on 10 acres of land in beautiful Tustin. The BOS spent $35 million for an animal shelter with air-conditioning and heated floors, surgical suites and noise reducing walls. Dogs can frolic in one of 8 grass play areas too. The animal shelter is a thousand times nicer than the Courtyard which is a people shelter.- an open air bus terminal that has rain pouring in during stormy times.

Another comparison is Bridges at Kramer$12 million was spent for a people shelter with bunk beds stacked like a prison and a concrete parking lot to play in, or not.

The Courtyard in Santa Ana gets 700 calls for police services per month, in addition to the emergency calls for fire and paramedics services. That is one ton of money right out of the taxpayers pocket, to not even give folks a roof over their heads.

The armories are not a viable option for several reasons:

  1. They will be closing soon for the spring, putting hundreds more out on the streets at night.
  2. They close every morning at 6, discharging all their homeless to wander the streets all day.
  3. They are a physically unacceptable option for people with any sort of disability.

It is my opinion, in closely working with the homeless population, that most if not all of the riverbed residents would qualify under the broad definition of the ADA. If they don’t suffer from a physical disability, then they suffer from mental disabilities; if it’s not mental disabilities then it could be addictions; if it’s not addictions then its PTSD or anxiety disorder or stress disorder all of which are protected by the ADA.

These homeless people have been traumatized and hundreds are unable to cope in a room with hundreds of other people.  Many of them are unable to lie on the ground on a mat, and they are still discharged at 6AM every morning to wander the streets when the armories close.

Their stay in the motels needs to be extended until the BOS and cities figure out how to correct their mistakes of the past decade, until they figure out where to house these residents or until Judge Carter forces them all to do the right thing.

It is also necessary to get the BOS member and DA candidate TODD SPITZER under control. He needs to stop spewing his negatively infused distorted rhetoric on KFI. He has helped to fuel the NIMBY flames by his inflammatory radio statements which have resulted in a backlash from city governments where homeless residents are being sheltered.

When you have a media-seeking OC supervisor manipulating the truth either on TV or the radio it is not only detrimental to the ability for anyone to shelter these people but also puts their general well being at risk. His job is not propaganda minister. Should any harm come to any of these residents it will be on his head and the BOS that seem to refuse to take responsibility for any of this mess.

There is just one federally mandated answer dating back to Bush Senior and fact-based studies: PSH, Permanent Supportive Housing.

About Jeanine Mercado