The people of Orange County are making their voices heard on the complex issue of homelessness and elected officials are listening. At the June 6th, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Todd Spitzer advanced a directive for a plan of action to meet the challenges of the homeless population and affected communities. The action was approved by a 4-0 vote and is progressing with support of concerned members of the community and cities answering the call to action.
Law enforcement presence on the Santa Ana river trail by the OC Sheriff’s Department with local Police agencies was implemented in September. In November, enforcement of public river trail hours effectively began the process of removing entrenched homeless encampments. Supervisor Spitzer is determined to prevent the river trail from becoming Orange County’s Skid Row.
The homeless population must be addressed humanely and with compassion. Under the leadership of Supervisor Spitzer, the County opened Bridges at Kraemer Place, Orange County’s first year-round, full-service homeless shelter in April, 2017. This is in addition to the Courtyard shelter in Santa Ana, opened in the fall of 2016, and the armory shelters in Fullerton and Anaheim, opened early for winter in 2017.
The County is continuing to provide shelter options with health and social service outreach in partnership with non-profit and charitable groups. The goal is to provide a path for willing participants to transition to emergency shelters and permanent housing.
In December, Supervisor Spitzer led the effort to purchase an office building to be renovated in to a County mental health services center. The property is in Supervisor Spitzer’s Third District, in the City of Orange. Previously in April, the County celebrated the opening of Bridges at Kramer Place.
Law enforcement on the riverbed is an important step in this multilayered process. There is no intent to criminalize homelessness, rather it is the responsibility of government to confront the criminal element festering in the unsanitary, virtually lawless conditions - for the benefit of both the community and people inhabiting the riverbed. By increasing the protections of the law, criminal activity impacting local residents will be substantially reduced and others among the homeless population seeking services can do so free of criminal intimidation.
Orange County represents a complex jurisdiction of interconnected systems impacted directly or indirectly by homelessness. Health care, criminal justice, child welfare, public transportation, economic and social, legislative and political systems all intersect with homelessness, with significant impacts in our local communities.
As of August 2017, there are approximately (per 2017 Point in Time count):
4,800 homeless persons counted in Orange County
619 encampments in the Santa Ana riverbed
It is not illegal to be homeless, but neither does being homeless mean you are exempt from obeying the law. We are obligated to follow the State and Federal laws that clearly define the limits of what we are, and are not, able to do when addressing the impacts of homelessness.
- 211OC, a resource for health and human service programs, including shelters, click here.
- Orange County's behavioral and mental health programs, click here.
- Food Pantries in Orange County by Waste Not OC, click here.
- Orange County's Office of Care Coordination, click here.
- Orange County Shelter Programs, click here.
For crimes in progress, always call 911.
To report an incident in OCSD contract cities including Villa Park and Yorba Linda, unincorporated areas, or any area under County jurisdiction, contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department: (714) 288-6742
City of Orange, contact the Orange Police Department: (714) 744-7444.
City of Tustin, contact the Tustin Police Department: (714) 573-3200
City of Irvine, contact the Irvine Police Department: (949) 724-7000
Anaheim Hills, contact the Anaheim Police Department: (714) 765-3800