Yesterday, Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and representatives from the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton held a community forum at Eastside Community Church to present details on the proposed year-round homeless shelter at 1000 N. Kraemer Place in Anaheim. OC Community Services Director Karen Roper presented a public safety plan in response to NIMBY protesters' complaints and reiterated the county's goal to end homelessness once and for all.
"Orange County currently has around 452 homeless people–this equates to 15,291 persons that become homeless over a 12 month period," said Roper. "Families with children represent 31% of the homeless population."
She explained that this joint shelter/multi-service center–one-stop shops for homeless support services–would serve up to 200 homeless individuals who can only enter after passing a screening and securing a bed reservation. If accepted, they will be picked up at a specified location, driven to the shelter on a bus, and have access to a bed and services like health screenings, employment and housing navigation, and basic needs (laundry, food, transportation assistance, counseling). The maximum length of stay is 30 days. To address NIMBYs' concern of homeless people loitering nearby, no walk-ins will be allowed.
"This is a benefit for taxpayers," Roper said. "The county's financial costs right now are higher in jails. The goal is to reallocate costs from the homeless' phone calls [to this shelter]. This will reduce system impacts to taxpayers."
Roper covered nearly every concern the NIMBYs had, apocalyptically expressed online and at a community forum held by BetterSolutions4Anaheim–an organization assisted by infamous blogger Matt Cunningham, lackey to Anaheim's powers-that-be and pedophile-protector apologist–in August that emphasized protecting property values and ensuring safety. Every prospective client would be screened to prevent sex offenders and felons from coming in. On-site security guards would be enforced with officers stationed inside and outside of the shelter and at pickup and drop-off sites. Security guards with wands would make sure no individual enters the building with weapons. Neighborhood patrols would monitor the surrounding area as far as a mile away to prevent loitering. Anaheim Police Department Chief Raul Quezada also added that cameras may be installed in the surrounding area to map crime.
The crowd in the audience was divided into distinct groups: Christian ministers and members, NIMBYs (a majority associated with BetterSolutions4Anaheim), representatives of homeless outreach organizations, and homeless people–but only a few. During the public comments period, Christian and Catholic deacons, nuns, and church members spoke into the mic about selflessness and caring for the poor–either in the name of Jesus, the Bible, or just pure good will. But NIMBYs could care less. After all, they have property values to think about, to which Larry Haynes, Mercy House executive director and panelist, had a thought.
"No data indicates that such a location would lower the property values and increase crime," he said. "But I understand. When you purchase a home, it is one of the most important decisions you can make. But the data simply does not support all of the fear. What the data does support is that a shelter linked to housing is not just the humane thing to do; it's intelligent business as well."
In the same vein, a woman from the audience named Caroline de la Torra slammed BetterSolutions4Anaheim by name. "What is your solution?" she said. "I am disgusted you care more about property value than a human being."
A homeless woman in the audience could attest to that. "I had a home in Anaheim all my life," she said, breaking into tears. "I grew up here. But my grandma got Alzheimer's and passed away. They threw everything I had into the dumpsters. I had to deal with so much harassment and judgements. I'm not an alcoholic. Homelessness is not a disease. We're human beings."
According to a county representative, the due diligence period to buy 1000 N. Kramer Place ends on October 30.