Orange County Commission to End Homelessness Disputes Grand Jury Report

Orange County Commission to End Homelessness Disputes Grand Jury Report
A homeless encampment off Ross Street in Santa Ana, Calif., on May 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Rudy Blalock
Orange County’s homeless commission disputed Aug. 17 much of a recent grand jury report which showed “mixed” success in the county’s effort to address homelessness.

The Commission to End Homelessness's drafted responses will be reviewed by the county Board of Supervisors Aug. 23.

The Orange County Grand Jury’s report “How is Orange County Addressing Homelessness,” (pdf) stated south Orange County lacks what they call “low-threshold emergency shelters,” or shelters that don’t monitor drug intake or have strict requirements in exchange for a place to sleep.

The commission agreed to the findings in a draft response, saying the problem was unresolved, but it doesn’t have plans to build any shelters yet.

The “recommendation requires further analysis,” as the county is also looking for proposals from organizations to establish new shelters, the response reads (pdf).

The grand jury report also mentioned the lack of affordable rental units as a factor increasing homelessness in Orange County.

Commissioners agreed while justifying this is partly due to landlords’ and property management companies’ strict tenant background requirements, among other challenges.

The grand jury report recommended action to be taken by July 2023 to develop more affordable housing for those exiting emergency shelters. But commissioners said they have already acted, citing the 2019 establishment of the Orange County Housing Finance Trust, a joint powers authority comprised of OC cities that find funding to build over 2,600 units of affordable housing.

Additionally, the commission said over 1,000 housing vouchers will be provided to the homeless through the collaboration of Orange County, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, and Anaheim housing authorities.

The grand jury also reported that youth who leave the foster care system have a high risk of becoming homeless.

The commission agreed, saying efforts are being taken by several agencies in Orange County to make affordable housing accessible for youth transitioning out of foster care.

The grand jury recommended that Orange County should collaborate with the Continuum of Care—a series of nonprofits and government agencies tasked with ending homelessness in the region—to increase housing opportunities for “transitional aged youth,” by December 2022.

But commissioners said action is already being taken by establishing a registry of youth “at risk” of homelessness and working with service providers to prioritize housing referrals to the most vulnerable.

Orange County’s homeless population decreased nearly 17 percent since 2019, according to a report released by the county on May 11.

Of the 5,718 homeless individuals reported in the 2022 point-in-time count (pdf), about 53 percent were unsheltered. The last point-in-time count in 2019 reported 6,860 homeless individuals, with about 58 percent unsheltered.
Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.