$13.4 Million Approved for Santa Ana Shelters as Controversy Lingers

Overcrowding at OC homeless shelter “The Courtyard”

Last Tuesday, Aug. 27, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved $13.4 million for three existing Santa Ana homeless shelters, one of them being the controversial Courtyard.

The $13.4 million represents continuing county spending, beginning in 2016, on the shelters. The Courtyard, which will receive $1,704,167, bringing the total up to $7,764,573, was criticized in a scathing March ACLU report detailing rampant problems including unsafe living conditions, verbal, physical and sexual harassment and a fear of reprisal should any of the residents complain.

The women’s shelter SAFEPlace, which will receive a total of $4,686,487, also struggles with these issues, according to the report. Washington Place, a shelter for homeless couples, will receive $968,458.

“The Courtyard is not a place meant for human habitation,” said Eve Garrow, the ACLU attorney who co-authored the report with Julia Devanthéry. “It’s an open air structure with no temperature control, air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, it floods, people are forced to use really unsanitary portable toilets, it’s actually a health hazard for people.”

Garrow acknowledged that The Courtyard, an old bus terminal which shelters up to 450 people at a time, is necessary for a lot of homeless people, but she would like to see more stringent regulation regarding contractors who run homeless shelters. Midnight Mission, a homeless service contractor, runs The Courtyard.

According to Garrow, the county is approaching homelessness from a shelter first perspective, pouring money into shelters rather than creating affordable housing or other permanent living spaces for people transitioning out of homelessness. In the housing first model, Garrow said that homeless people would stay in shelters for no longer than a few weeks instead of the months or years many homeless people spend in them.

However, Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said that Orange County is already doing a significant amount of work to build supportive housing units, where formerly homeless people can live with nearby wraparound services such as mental health counseling.

“We’re addressing the immediate need for shelters to get individuals off the street,” Bartlett said. “We have an Orange County Housing Trust and the county put in $5 million to get it started; we are looking to other partners to get it funded, private sector, government, and hopefully some grant funding from the state to get 2,700 permanent supportive housing units.”

Bartlett added that the end solution to homelessness should be long term housing, and that the county currently has 900 permanent supportive housing units.

Of the money going to The Courtyard, $870,208 will be used for City Net, a homelessness coordination nonprofit, which aims to improve the space’s ability to help the homeless.

The money is meant to cover the operational costs for the shelters and the services they provide.

The county also provides incentives for landlords, such as rent vouchers, to accept people transitioning out of homelessness in their apartments.

“The county’s approach is well balanced,” said Veronica Carpenter, First District Supervisor Andrew Do’s chief of staff. “There are some people who need help with employment and they have a voucher and that’s all they need. In other cases there are people who need mental health treatment, more access to mental health services.”

From 2017, the county added 1,390 shelter beds, increasing the amount from 1,149 to 2,539. However, in that same period, the county lost 31 transitional housing beds, decreasing the amount from 1,166 to 1,135.

The Courtyard has transitioned 500 people out of homelessness in two years, according to Carpenter, who noted that a significant portion of the facility’s outreach work focuses on convincing homeless people to enter a shelter, although many do not trust that they will be treated humanely.

“Multiple interviewees described shelter conditions that are dangerously unsafe and unsanitary,” Garrow states in her report, “including inadequate temperature control, exposure to the elements, filthy and decrepit shower and restroom facilities, and recurrent infestations of rodents, maggots, insects, bedbugs, head lice and scabies.”

Bartlett outlined the shelters as part of a countywide “system of care” aimed at combating homelessness, including mental and physical health services, short and long term housing.

As part of her report, Garrow recommended that the county establish an oversight board to more closely regulate the shelters and ensure that conditions are humane for the residents.

“The county is ultimately responsible for raising the standards and protecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness who are using these shelters,” Garrow said.

11 Replies to “$13.4 Million Approved for Santa Ana Shelters as Controversy Lingers”

  1. Why can they just die off and save us the money to be better used, no need to wasted on the low life , wastfulness on those who doesnt want to help…

    1. Wow.. as ignorant as they come. It’s not their fault that you hate yourself. .So obvious that you’re miserable. Try prayer

  2. I’ve been homeless the past two years, and the two times I’ve tried living in local shelters, Bridges at Kraemer, and a Salvation Army shelter on Lewis in Anaheim, I left within a few weeks, due to the rampant drug use, and the fact every night is like New Year’s Eve at these places- it is impossible to get a decent night’s sleep. I guarantee organized crime sees these shelters as No Risk profit centers, a place to do business without any chance of being busted for trafficking. I don’t have the answers, but I believe throwing money at shelters is a poor use of taxpayer money.

  3. Shelters are not homes…Homes end Homelessness. The County Board of Supervisors continues to act irresponsible with taxpayer funds by rewarding the same service providers that were mentioned in the ACLU report. Giving millions to bad service providers isn’t the answer to resolving Homelessness in Orange County.
    The Board of Supervisors have not exemplified motivation to solve or end homelessness, according to every Orange County Grand Jury Report since 2006; yet, the Board of Supervisors have enough discretionary funds (approx. 1 Billion) and over 1500 land parcels, scatteredthroughout the county, that could be used to build permanent supportive housing.
    If shelters were the answer to resolving homelessness throughout the Nation, Housing First would not be the best recognized plan to resolve homelessness. The Federal Government and State of California have recognized and adopted the Housing First Model; however, the Board of Supervisors continues to maliciously neglect those living in abject poverty throughout the county.
    An open air and retired bus terminal is not a shelter…..it doesn’t even comply with HUD shelter requirements.
    To date, over 350 people have died while living on the streets since January 2018.
    It doesn’t have to be this way…not in one of the wealthiest counties in the Nation.

  4. I’ve been at two of the shelters, (Kramer & salvation Army) they both are very good shelters but the problem that t have is that the have is one pet per person and i have 5 dogs that i have had sence they where born and now they are about 3yrs old.. They help me withe my mental health problems. Mind u they have all been with me at both shelters all of them have. I’m back at Kramer and i have one of my dogs with me while the rest od them stay on the streets with my brother or my boyfriend, we all will take teuns staying out with them as one will go in the shelter so we dont get kicked out.

  5. I think it is very sad that those living under these conditions are treated like something under your shoe, have any of you actually talked a homeless person in any way, have tried to find out how they got this way?

    Sometimes things happen our lives we have little to no control over. In 2002 I became very I’ll, after test were done the doctors found that I had 6 Brain Anyursims, if you know anything about them then you know that 98% of them are diagnosed by the Coroner because your dead with just 1.
    After 2 surgeries, my doctor told me when I asked him how soon I could go back to work, he told me NEVER! On top of now not having a job any longer , and even wuth the great insurance i had through my work I was now responsible for 2.2 million dollars worth of medical bills to pay.
    My long term disability would only be paying me 60% of the income I used to have.
    I thought ok surely once I apply for my Social Security things would be ok, NOT my first denial letter when i got it said I was being denied my benefits because I’D HAD ELECTIVE SURGERY FOR MULTIPLE BRAIN ANYURSIMS!!!
    No you are not reading that wring thus is what In was told, on top of which because they denied me, so did every other CITY, COUNTY, STATE, OR FEDERAL AGENCY, I went to.
    It then took me 7 years, 3 attorneys, and goung before a Judge to finally get them! THANK YOU JESUS!!!
    But before that happened I was so close to being homeless it was a matter of a few hours or I would have been.
    Again Thank You Jesus, I received a phone call from an Angel, telling me they were coming to get me, to pack up my place, put it in storage and I was going home to live with them.
    They did not really have room for me, they lived I a studio apartment, but didn’t matter, I was standing in my apartment the next morning, in my now empty home, there was a knock in the door, it was the Marshall to put me out in the street right then and there, by the way it was the day after Christmas when this happened.
    So what I’m trying to say is stop looking at every homeless person as something dirty, disgusting, vial, and not worth a second thought, I’ll tell you the same thing I did over 30 years prior to thus happening to me. . .
    But for the Grace of God there go any if us, for lufe can, and some times does change in the blink of an eye.
    Oh one last thing please excuse any misspelled words, punctuation, or badly structured sentence, and just focus on this brief but true accounting of my own experience with being homeless.
    Thank you, and Thank You Jesus for my own Angel You sent me, I could gave survived any of this without You, and them. Amen

    God Bless


    1. Thank you for that comment. I am aware that there is a ton of mentally ill people on the streets that comprise a large part of the Homeless community. But I still believe that NOT ALL are mentally ill.

      There needs to be something done, and whatever it is it needs to be done soon.

  6. These useless homeless need to be euthanized. Bunch of fucking white people asking me for money outside 711. Send em back to white town or inject em like dogs

  7. I myself 63yo notice on any& most comments made regarding homeless are
    negative -the only people who make these comments are the ones who
    have never experienced it for themselves, I myself have worked for
    more than 44yrs mostly in Orange County ,I do NOT do drugs/alcohol nor
    do I have any type of criminal record -BUT I find myself homeless due
    to Personal & Corporate Greed an selfishness brought on by High Rent
    Prices ,when people pay these exuberant rent prices they do Not
    realize that you are giving these property owners a Stamp seal of
    approval on Jacking-up as high as they can in order for them to make a
    so called Profit >ITS Called >GREED! I myself am Not Stupid to give
    inn to those {I wish more people had the Courage to do this}But -MOST
    PEOLPLE say >I HAVE TO HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE I have No Choice but to
    give in to the idiots that create high rent prices, those who are
    homeless and do these Bad behavior issues are giving me a bad image- i
    myself am being punished by those who criticize homeless-ness, anyone
    who is homeless is branded a >Druggie-alcoholic-mentally incapacitated
    or worse a Criminal>NOT TRUE! REMEBER!! DO Not JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS
    COVER, CMON PEOPLE -Wake-Up an take a stand for what is right an stop
    thinking your better than me!
    PS; How about doin a report / commentary {if you got the courage} on
    peoples Greed an personal selfishness as they are the reason and
    cause of homeless-ness by paying these exuberant high mortgage cost
    /taxes and charging as much as they want -*thinking they are goin to
    make a profit {todays society is all about money & material things wat
    a shame!} this is happening across this country , it sickens me to
    hear people are worried about there property value if even 1person
    being homeless in there neighborhood-they better expect it to happen
    when they are given in to Greed or they are stupid and blind-sided by
    there own greed ,its only gonna get worse as we have an influx of
    Illegal Migrants-immigrant’s-refugees and now influx of Caravans from
    central America -so hold on to your tail and get ready for rent prices
    to sky-rocket even higher and more American citizens to go homeless an
    longer lines-more traffic congestion and more Babies being pumped-out
    ,what bothers me even more is when the police harass the homeless
    telling us we have to move-on >WHERE? they are puppets of city council
    or county commissioners ,where do the police think we are just gonna
    magically disappear or do they wish-encourage us to commit suicide-for
    most of us that’s NOT gonna happen,

  8. I am sick and tired of seeing the same people pushing around their stolen shopping carts piled high with all kinds of crap. Every day I see the same people begging at the intersections and freeway offramps. Then “camping” all over town. I’m convinced most of these people are mentally ill/drug addicted and need to be institutionalized. My Santa Ana neighborhood has break-ins and vandalism on a daily basis. Police won’t even respond. And our City Council doesn’t have a clue what to do.

  9. On July 30 over 40 whistle Blowers attended the BOS meeting and during public comments brought a gift to the board. It is the gift of resolution 6021, to end homelessness, bring affordable housing and sustainability in homeownership.
    It is the self funded budget item that doesn’t require taxation or bonds and to date we have only heard crickets from the BOS regarding this remedy.
    Read for yourself at http://www.resolution6021.com

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