Orange County Supervisor Candidates Share Strategies on Combatting Homelessness

February 18, 2021 Updated: February 18, 2021

With the race for the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ second district seat gearing up, The Epoch Times reached out to all five candidates regarding their views on some of the county’s top issues.

The topic of homelessness has been a major county problem for years, and is one cities throughout the county continue to address.

Each candidate was asked, “If elected, what would you do to address homelessness in Orange County?”

John Moorlach

Former State Senator John Moorlach—who once held the District 2 seat—emphasized his past work in helping mentally ill and homeless residents. He said he would bring his state experience to continue working to address the crisis.

“When I served as the Orange County Supervisor for the Second District from 2006 to 2015, I was the inaugural Chair of the Commission to End Homelessness,” Moorlach told The Epoch Times. “We worked to collaborate with key members of the nonprofit community, like Mercy House, HomeAid, the Orange County Rescue Mission, Illuminaire and others.”

He cited one of his major accomplishments as obtaining the financing to implement Laura’s Law, which applies to those with severe mental illness who’ve had psychiatric hospitalizations or incarcerations and displayed violent behavior.

He said he has pursued other legislation to help the mentally ill as well, including an effort to bring more psychiatric beds to hospitals, and to expand the definition of gravely disabled people.

If elected, he said he would continue to help the underprivileged.

“I would like to pick up where I left off. I will bring my state experience and work with Projects Homekey and Roomkey,” he said. “…I will also work with the Commission to End Homelessness, the County, the nonprofits, 2-1-1 and now CalOptima and Be Well/Mind OC, to address this crisis.”

Kevin Muldoon

Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon said that, if elected, he would work with various organizations to address mental health.

“We need to deal with the core issue of substance abuse and mental health that affect a large portion of the homeless population,” Muldoon told The Epoch Times. “By working with all stakeholders, including non-profits and mental health professionals, we must work to find practical solutions that not only provide temporary relief, but long-term solutions.”

 Janet Rappaport

International tax attorney Janet Rappaport said there are different types of homeless people and the county needs to create new solutions instead of simply throwing money at the issue.

“The county has a role to play, providing coordination, communication and funding,” Rappaport said. “We must not look at outdated solutions. My approach is not simply about a capital investment.

“We need to understand our homeless constituencies and different needs.”

Various types of displaced individuals include those suffering from chronic homelessness, living in their cars, and those who’ve lost their home as a result of the pandemic, Rappaport said.

“Understanding homeless will provide appropriate solutions,” she said. “Building a facility does not solve the problem.  Historically, the Board of Supervisors has not been proactive, this needs to change.”

She also called on Orange County to obtain state and federal funding to better help cities.

“County social services monies need to increase, successful homeless solutions have large social services spend,” she said. “This is a county budget issue.”

Michael Vo

Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo said the county must work with agencies to help homeless residents who want to be helped.

“I believe there is a role for the county to play when it comes to homelessness,” Vo told The Epoch Times.

“That role is providing a hand-up, not a hand-out. If we proactively work with municipalities, surrounding agencies, and non-profit organizations we should be able to assist those who want help with the resources they need, such as temporary housing, job placement, and navigation towards permanent housing.”

However, he added, efforts to reduce homelessness should not come at the expense of public safety.

“I am not supportive of permanent housing or encampments,” Vo said. “The unfortunate fact is, many of those suffering from homelessness do not want to be helped—these individuals should be returned to their respective homes.”

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley did not respond to request for comment from The Epoch Times.

The District 2 supervisorial election happens March 9. The candidate who receives the majority of votes will win the seat.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis