How and Why Homeless in Santa Ana Aren't Getting What they Need
How Orange County is putting a band-aid on their plans to eliminate and prevent homelessness.
Throughout spring quarter, the Community Reporting class of UC Irvine discovered a variety of local community issues in Orange County ranging from the animosity of banning plastic bags in Huntington Beach to the increasing network of prostitution in Stanton. However, the needs of the Santa Ana homeless community drew our attention the most. This multi-faceted report is an attempt to understand and determine how and why the homeless are not getting the services they need. Individually, we look at the lack of city involvement, the increasing services of non-profits, the relationship between the homeless community and the community residing near the Civic Center Plaza where many homeless people gather. Preventing homeless is an extremely difficult task, so the Community Reporting class of UC Irvine will attempt to illustrate who are the big players of this issue and why the homeless community will continue to reside in Santa Ana.
The Civic Center as a Community
By Gricel Garcia and Kenia Torres
SANTA ANA--- As Floriberta Villanueva and her son Jesus approach the Orange County Walk of Honor, they begin to quicken their pace. Floriberta holds onto Jesus’s arm tightly and tells him to not stare at the homeless people. Over the years, the Orange County Walk of Honor became the hot spot for many homeless people throughout Orange County. Many organizations and churches gather around the Civic Center Plaza to offer their services of food or basic amenities.
Villanueva lives in an apartment complex near the Orange County Walk of Honor. She picks up Jesus every day after school, so she sees the homeless community on a daily basis. Yet, she does not feel completely at ease.
“If they’re not doing anything, I don’t care. They’re free to do whatever they want," said Floriberta. "But there was this one time two months ago, when I was walking by with Jesus after he got out of school, and this older woman started cussing at me out of nowhere because I was staring at her. I guess it was my fault for staring, but I couldn’t help it."
There are many families who are uncomfortable exposing their children to the homeless environment at a young age. However, other families that seek the same services as the homeless do not feel the same way.
Ana Hernandez is sitting next to her son, while she watches her two-year-old daughter, Eileen, talk to three homeless men sitting on a bench nearby. Eileen is wearing pink shorts and a striped shirt with her hair up in pigtails that bounce as she runs towards her mother. Eileen shows her a brown paper lunch bag. Inside the bag is a sandwich wrapped in foil and a granola bar that the men gave to Eileen. According to Hernandez, Eileen makes friends with many of the homeless people around and they save her food.
For approximately two weeks, Ana Hernandez has been going to the Civic Center Plaza to use the meal services provided by the non-profit organizations. As a mother of two and five months pregnant, she struggles to make ends meet on welfare. The food stamps will not arrive until another three days and the money she receives from welfare is barely enough to pay the rent. Hernandez gets the most help from the Salvation Army because they provide plenty of grocery goods.
“This area is really blessed because they provide meals and other services for people in need," said Hernandez.
Hernandez is appreciative of the services provided by non-profit organizations. She appreciates the fact that they are not limited to the homeless, but are available for anyone facing difficult circumstances. She found about these services through a friend. Her friend, Veronica Sanchez, arrived at the Civic Center Plaza after her family became homeless. Sanchez used to attend the daily meal services in order to feed her family. The Sanchez family slept in shelters, occasionally with friends, and on the sidewalk of the Orange County Walk of Honor. Despite the help she received from the services Sanchez and her family left the United States, and are now living in Mexico, according to Hernandez.
Even though Hernandez recently started seeking help from the non-profits in the Civic Center Plaza, Hernandez has no problems with the homeless that hang around the area. She is aware that some are dangerous, but she has never had any trouble with them.
“I feel like I am at any other kind of park. I enjoy sitting around and observing these people who have so many stories to tell,” said Hernandez.
By Thao Ta
The Santa Ana Civic Center is one of the more populated areas in Orange County where the homeless reside. Among the homeless community, Thao Vu, 39, says that despite not having a job or seeing his family, he is sure that he “[won’t] have to worry or [be] afraid of dying from starvation.”
Nor has he seen anyone else go hungry.
“Sometimes, food is just a little and people get in long lines, but I never see people getting hungry. Nothing from that,” Vu says. “Even if I’m full, I try to get something in the hopes for other people when they have already left. I can ask them for seconds for myself or for someone who is hungry.”
The civic center is home to nearly 300 of the homeless population, with nearly 600 that pass through daily for the food services. Vu says, “It’s hard to tell because the amount of people who come every day. Different day, and same people but some of them stay here and others go somewhere else and new people come.”
The food, which is provided and distributed among various anonymous organizations, arrives every day, distributing from three to seven servings within a day.
The walk takes Vu less than a minute. Vu resides on the side that is considered to be more “community based” on Flower Street, where members of a lobby group for the homeless, known as the Civic Center Roundtable reside.
Just nearly eight years ago, Vu arrived to the United States. He lived in several areas first in Denver, Colorado eventually moving to Wichita, Kansas and then Virginia. The last area he resided in is Garden Grove. The various jobs he occupied included working as a manicurist, MC (otherwise known as a rapper), and a massage therapist.
Vu currently has a younger sister who lives in Stockton with her husband and son. His only request is to interact in the Vietnamese language, for which he speaks fluently.
Other than yearning to trace himself back to his roots, he says, “I don’t expect much.”
By Thao Ta
“This is the place destined for homeless people. Every time I did something, I prospered. There aren’t a lot of places like this,” said homeless Santa Ana resident Donald Haylock.
Haylock, who was born in Belize and became homeless originally in San Fernando, came to Orange County in the 1990s to a place where he said had more opportunities.
“When I came to Orange County, man this place is green, plush, so nice,” said Haylock. “They weren’t really prejudiced and they already had a feeding program.”
But since his arrival, Haylock addressed concerns within the Santa Ana Civic Center.
Some of the problems include employees who prefer the homeless to relocate to less densely populated areas, away from large businesses.
Haylock mentions some resolutions. He advises that employees should openly communicate with the homeless, and willingly work with them if they want the homeless community to congregate less at the civic center.
“There is a lot of things out here that should be paid attention to, but is not,” said Haylock. “Once the homeless community came out here, they [the county] didn’t know what to do nor did they want to do anything. So, you’re stuck with a situation that is not going away.”
“The employee county workers don’t want to befriend these people. They wanted to treat them like clients, like patients. We’re all people. You either learn how to help them or learn how to deal with the situation that you’ve turned a blind eye to.”
As a result, the homeless community found the need to look after themselves. A few of the ways the homeless worked together was in the creation of the advocacy group, the Civic Center Roundtable.
“We’re with the group [Civic Center Roundtable],” said Haylock. “The group is doing what these people in the office should be doing, but they’re not.”
One of the main problems, he stresses, is that the homeless community should be more informed of the services offered.
“A lot of people are out here. They don’t know how to fend for themselves. They don’t know how to go to this office, or that office. That is why people come out here to help them,“ said Haylock.
Though there are not a lot of places like Orange County, Haylock still finds it necessary for the county to help the homeless get on their feet and be more productive. Haylock, who learned how to live on the streets, says “back then there were not much ways to learn how to help yourself to fend for yourself.”
Past Lessons, Future Policies
By Katie Licari
Activists, clergymen, members of the homeless community, and community leaders gathered for a town-hall on homelessness held by the Santa Ana City Council.
Thursday’s, June 12, special meeting focused on solutions to the issues that the homeless face. Suggestions from the public and various non-profits were presented before the Council to take into account when writing policy.
“It’s very personal for those of us who were raised in Santa Ana, these are our neighbors.” Councilmen Vincent Sarmiento said on the issue. “These are the people we went to school with. These are the people who taught us and the people our kids go to school with. So it is very personal, it is very important.”
The main theme of the evening was collaboration and connecting government officials to the homeless population, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
Brad Fieldhouse from City Net, presented on a collaborative model innovated in Anaheim. “There were a lot of organizations trying to help out [the homeless] and it looked like this, a lot of people doing a lot of different things with no place to coordinate the conversation... The most honoring and dignifying way to look at this [issue] is [to] look at the situation and resources currently available. We were contracted by the city to make a place for these groups to work together, or just say ‘what are you doing?’”
The town hall was a format for policymakers to receive input from those affected by homelessness, hopefully resulting in new policy. In the past 30 years, there has been a lack of policy regarding homeless issues. Historically when policies were enacted, they were used to criminalize the homeless, rather than provide assistance.
Members of the Civic Center Roundtable, a group that consists Civic Center homeless citizens, came to communicate the needs of their community with the Councilmembers. Suggestions included simple solutions such as, basic necessities for everyday life, to more complex needs. Some common requests were greater access to showers and a storage facility to place their possessions.
Members of the Roundtable also brought the cities “anti-camping, anti-homeless” ordinance to light.
The “anti-camping” ordinance, passed in 1992, makes it illegal to camp or have camping paraphernalia on city property. Violating this ordinance results in a ticket, which many homeless individuals can not afford to pay.
“Cease with the homeless tickets. If we are going to work together and get ahead, and get ourselves together, and get out of here, then help us.” Roundtable representative Brizy May said.
May continued on to discuss the seizure of the homeless’ personal property, legal under this ordinance through the “camping paraphernalia” language.
“You can’t take our belongings, they have our documents-- our blankets, and we need those.”
Representatives from non-profits gave presentations and voiced their opinions to the council.
One local nonprofit, Mercy House, serves roughly 3000 people per year and has four housing communities, two of which cater to HIV/AIDS patients.
“We need to begin with a premise that homelessness is something to end, not simply something to manage.” said Larry Haynes, Executive Director of Mercy House. “Once you have that mindset, who you want to serve significantly changes. All of a sudden it is not ‘this is a difficult person. I don’t want to help them,’ to ‘we have to find a way to reach out to the service resistant, to end homelessness.’”
Homelessness is a multi-faceted issue which will need to address poverty, mental health, and addiction. Going forward will require patience, but unlike in the past, a solution is being sought.
“The humanity in all of us is going to be important to prevail, and I think we have that.” Sarmiento said. “This is a family, this is an extended network of nonprofits and faith-based organizations. More than anything these are just caring neighbors and that’s important. So I want to thank all of you, and I would like to thank my colleagues who are here, and are going to be working towards a solution… We can do better.”
OC's Long-Term Goals to Eliminate Homelessness
By Sanne Bergh
In 2008, Orange County implemented a ten-year action plan to “end homelessness," which included a set of goals that would see an end to what is commonly seen as a community problem.
Since 1996, Orange County recieved about $153 million in Homeless Assistance Funding. In order to apply for such funding, cities need plans, like Orange County's ten-year plan to end homelessness. According to the report, a combined $10,553,300 was allocated for local cities, $67 million for programs assisting homeless families, and $3,937,729 for more homeless programs.
The plan recognizes that "managing the homeless" is expensive and that the city's plan to truly "end homelessnesss" is lofty. However, they plan to actually reduce homelessness in Orange County through blended housing models, transitional programs and effective rehabilitation back into society. Program's like H.E.A.R.T., initiated by the Santa Ana police, seek to remove people from the streets, and help with finding a home, a job and arrange to send the homeless on a bus back to their legal or permanant homes.
Effectively managing homeless populations by simply taking them off the streets has seen some turbulation over the years. Availability of services is spotty. The plan seeks to oversee rent, bill and mortgage assistance, counseling to help repair credit, and legal and mediation services. People who wind up living on the streets often have difficulty obtaining access to these services. There is a gap in avaliability to the homeless and "inability to address many unmet needs," according to the report. As of 2012, there as been insufficient participation in Orange County and not enough affordable housing has been made avaliable.
The report plans for more emergency shelters. As of now, there is an "inadequate" amount made available and many serve to specialized populations of homeless, such as children and single mothers. Motels have served as a backup mode of living, which becomes a burden on both the motel and those who would be in desperate need of service. Also, according to the report, homelessness is decriminalized as well as quality of life crimes, such as public sleeping.
A Tentative Timeline of Orange County's and Santa Ana's Actions Regarding Homelessness
- 1990— Santa Ana River Trail considered less dangerous than years prior despite high populations of homeless and street gang members.
- October 1990-- Santa Ana settled a civil action for injunctive relief, agreeing to refrain from discriminating on the basis of homelessness, from taking action to drive the homeless out of the city, and from conducting future sweeps and mass arrests.
- October 1992—Santa Ana passed anti-camping ordinance to eradicate the tent city set up at the Civic Center. Intention was to maintain public streets and other public areas in the city in a clean and assessable condition.
“Our camping and storage ordinances were upheld by the state supreme court.”-- Commander Gominsky, Santa Ana Police Department
- 1993— there were from 10,000 to 12,000 homeless persons in Orange County and 975 permanent beds available to them.
- April 1995—Tobe v. City of Santa Ana, the homeless challenge the constitutionality of the unlawful camping ordinance in Santa Ana
- 2000-- Police officers arrested James Eichorn for sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground outside a county office building in the civic center. At trial, Eichorn had to argue that there were no shelter beds available. Eichorn’s lawyer wanted to determine the constitutionality of Santa Ana’s city ordinance prohibiting people from sleeping in public, but lost the appeal. Eichorn’s misdemeanor was repealed and he was given 40 hours of community service.
“The homeless problem is big and needs to be addressed not just by the police department, or the city, or the county, or the state, it’s going to take everybody.”-- Commander Gominsky
- 2008—OC Department of Education reported 15,814 public school students identified as living doubled or tripled up with other families due to economic hardship. 788 of these students lived in motels, 385 in shelters and 65 that were unsheltered.
- September 2008—The Commission to End Homelessness is created and a ten-year-plan to end homelessness in the Orange County is created. Goals include prevention, outreach, ensuring resources, advocacy, etc.
- 2009—Increased police presence on Santa Ana River Trail.
- July 10, 2011—Kelly Thomas declared dead after Fullerton cops threaten to arrest him and severely beat him until he’s mutilated and unconscious on July 5.
- October 2011—Occupy Orange County Movement protest at Santa Ana Civic Center. Police take down tents to enforce illegal camping laws.
- December 2011—42-year-old Lloyd Middaugh living underneath 91-freeway was stabbed to death on the Santa Ana River Trail. One of four homeless stabbings that took place over the holiday season in North Orange County.
- April 2012—Occupy Santa Ana members protests ticketing of homeless. One illegal camping ticket is $500.
- August 2013, Santa Ana Council approves zoning for homeless shelters, allowing them in industrial parts of the city but not within 500 ft. of residences, parks, child care centers or schools.
- September 2013—More than 12,700 homeless in Orange County with at least 4,000 on the streets every night.
- January 2014—Fullerton approves construction of 29,000 sq. ft. building for homeless shelter.
- April 2014—Homeless at Santa Ana Civic Center claim that police have been confiscating their belongings without any alleged assigned raids by police.
- May 2014—OC adopts Laura’s Law: allows court-ordered treatment of patients with severe mental illness.
What It Means To Be Homeless
By Hyosu Faulk and Thao Ta
5am - 6am: The homeless sleeping in the Civic Center are required to wake up and clean their sleeping area before Civic Center employees arrive to work at 6am. They store their personal belongings at one of the defense centers, or areas where the homeless store personal belongings. The defense centers and protected by other homeless people in the community. Tim Houchen is a member of the Civic Center Homeless community and claimed that the police cite those who do not wake up in time and clear out before employees arrive to work.
“Before we go to bed, we take our stuff from the defense center, set up for sleep, wake up at 5-5:30am to get out before people come to work and the police come cite us, then wait until 8am to use the bathrooms and then someone comes out to feed us breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between that time, we are either hanging around here or running small errands,” stated Houchen.
6am - 7am: Receive breakfast from the non-profit organization scheduled by Bonnie Joy Massey, who operates out of a food bank in Santa Ana on the Civic Center Food & Services weekly and hourly schedule. According to Lorenzo, a member of the Civic Center homeless community, Bonnie Jay Massey designed the weekly schedule that shows at what hour and on what day specific food and services are provided at the Civic Center.
“The non-profits organize their time to bring food with Bonnie, from the food bank to here,” said Lorenzo.
7am - 9am: Breakfast continues and the bathrooms, at the old bus terminal, are opened at 7am for the homeless. The bathrooms are used to bathe because there are no showers designated for the homeless except on Saturdays when a non-profit comes by at 8am with mobile showers unit made out of a trailer.
9am - 2pm: The following services distributed by non-profits organized by Bonnie Joy Massey are provided -- Lunch, OC Mental Health, mail distribution, acupuncture, haircuts and fellowship.
2pm - 7:30pm: The following services distributed by non-profits organized by Bonnie Joy Massey are provided -- Dinner, gospel, mobile medical unit, mobile legal unit, chili van, mail distribution and fellowship.
All time unaccounted for or spent between receiving services is time for leisurely activities or errands.
By Hyosu Faulk
The homeless community at the Riverbed do not run on a schedule. According to two members in the homeless community at the riverbed, Mars and Anthony, the homeless who reside there do not desire services, donations or charity, simply to be left alone to as they wait to pass on.
“I came out here to be at peace with God and wait for my time. I refused all services and help. They told me to go to Mary’s Kitchen and call county for medical services because of the cancer on my brain stem, but I don’t want to,” Mars stated.
Anthony is Mars’ neighbor, who has pitched his tent directly next to Mars’ and speaks of how they both have cancer, help comfort one another when they fall ill and look out for each other as they wait for their time.
“It’s really good out here. We take care of each other, we are waiting for our time with God, that’s all. Until then we are pretty good. We go to Circle K or the car garage for free coffee and to refill our water, we cook with our propane stove here and we got bathrooms in those porter potties at the construction sites here,” Anthony said.
Anthony and Mars denied all services from the county; however, they are not seen as a threat and are left alone by local police, who only moved them once to get them away from a dangerous electrical tower they previously resided under.
By Jennifer Cain
Pauli, a member of the homeless community who currently lives outside the Santa Ana Public Library, flips through a deck of flash cards with English words like "impugn."
He quietly reads the definition over and practices the word by using it in a sentence out loud. Each word triggers a different idea, memory and conversation. One word draws to mind his family and he begins to recollect his 11 siblings. Another card reads "disposition."
"You have a lovely disposition," he compliments brightly.
A few feet away from Pauli is "Forward" a small white dog asleep in the shade. Pauli says his job is to look after Forward while Forwards' owner Wendy gets some rest at a local hotel.
Trading favors like dog sitting is just one example of the homeless community supporting each other. Some members like to form family-style groups to get the things they need: whether its someone to watch their things while they're getting some rest at a hotel or in need of a few extra dollars.
Pauli smiles, as he lies barefoot on the cement ground under a hot sun. Happily he gives away a few small stacks of flash cards to those who find them interesting. He jumps topics quickly, but never loses enthusiasm. He speaks about the many types of birds Santa Ana is home to. For a second, he wonders where his binoculars went and then points out his blindness that shows in his right eye. "The most underserved community is the Hispanic homeless who are blind," Pauli says before quickly moving to the next subject.
By Thao Ta
For the past six months, Andrew Salgado, 56 returns to the Santa Ana Civic Center, an area of grassy fields with tall trees mainly as a place to sleep, waking up every day at 5:30am. Salgado, among the rest, is a part of the homeless population.
Before moving to the center, his living arrangements were at Bristol, located behind a liquor store. Salgado remembers a time when he held two jobs. His first job was at a Holiday Inn as a line cook, preparing dishes such as eggs over easy. Eventually, he was laid off.
Not long after, Salgado obtained a second job as a cook at a school. For nearly 10 to 12 years, he foods such as making the salsa. Back in those days, Salgado had the chance to work 40 hours a week - four days on the weekdays including two days on the weekend.
How he became homeless, Salgado in a matter of time stopped paying rent. He says, “The money I used for the rent, I gave to my son in Mexico.”
Yet, Salgado continued to look for jobs in the restaurant business after he was laid off as a cook. With no luck, he mentions solemnly that the job market was at a better time back in the days.
“30 years ago, there was more opportunity,” said Salgado.
Today, Salgado works at a different kind of job. He volunteers at Southwest Community Center. For the past 10 years from 7am-6pm, Salgado volunteers among several tasks, to serve food for the homeless. His transportation is comprised of walking. He said, “It’s only four to six blocks away.”
Salgado, in return, is provided a place to shower and food to eat. The center, however, does not offer him a place to sleep. That is when he comes back to the civic center. But still, he says he’d rather volunteer with his time. By doing so, he is more relaxed.
Among other tasks in his day, Salgado awaits until he can travel back to Mexico seven months from now in December. He says it is hard to make a living in the United States, but remains happy with his situation. Because around 7pm, he goes home to the civic center. He gets ready for another day to wake up at 5:30am to provide service to others in the homeless community.
By Thao Ta
Carl turned his life around for the better, when at a time in his life he was homeless. At the age of 60, he plans to enroll in courses for Culinary Arts in fall 2014.
For the past eight years, Carl managed to be off the streets. His motivation comes from the several philosophies he lives by.
“I want to occupy my time. Where it leads, it’s up to God,” said Carl. “Whatever it takes, I’m going to do it. To live with something without a purpose is no good.”
Looking back, Carl grew up in Skid Row, an area in Downtown Los Angeles. Today, he lives in South Los Angeles.
Carl, however, had his share of dealing with drugs and being incarcerated. “I did my part. I did my time,” he said.
Living on the streets, Carl said, “It gets bad when you lose your spirit. What they’re going through tears you down. If you’re not strong, it’s harder for you. They have to keep the motivation.”
Although Carl is no longer homeless, he visits the civic center frequently for friends that he has remained close with throughout the years. From his experience and what he’s seen, he says that some of the ways the county can help uplift the homeless in Santa Ana is to provide facilities, and utilize abandoned buildings.
The buildings, Carl suggested, can be used to implement shower facilities, or a rest area. Certain facilities will be beneficial to the homeless and the county. As such, the homeless community will have the motivation to be more productive with their time and seek jobs.
The Santa Ana Civic Center, where the homeless are woken as early as 5:30am, are required to wake up before employees arrive to work. He said, “A little help, you can get your area back [refers to businesses].”
“I suggest showers, lockers, hot meals they can use on their EBT cards, and housing for low income,” said Carl. By providing such services, people can wake
up, be productive, and search for jobs without the concerns of having personal belongings stolen or at times, confiscated from police.
Carl used to be homeless in Santa Monica. The Ocean Park Community Center, in Santa Monica, is one of the areas he stayed in, where restroom facilities opened as early as 5am. Although it wasn’t much, Carl said, he continued to utilize the facilities offered, which is one of the ways he surpassed homelessness.
On the other hand, the Santa Ana Civic Center provides restroom facilities that are open at 7am.
In 2003, in Santa Monica, the Ocean Park Community Center implemented SWASHLOCK, a program that provides 75-100 basic services for homeless individuals including daily showers, lockers, and weekly laundry services. In return, the program requires members to willingly make an effort to seek work.
In addition, in Downtown LA, the Los Angeles Mission, a non-profit, privately supported organization offers educational programs, career and job services. At the mission, the homeless can obtain birth certificates and identification cards for $7. Among the services, the homeless are offered sleep facilities including seeking help with drug rehabilitation and sexual assault prevention programs.
Much of the community in Santa Ana “needs to be taught how to live again.”
“They don’t know how to live. Everything is brought to them,” Carl said. From personal experience, Carl built himself up twice from homelessness.
“This should be a place you come to gather yourself and move on,” said Carl. “It’s a hard struggle. They have to keep the motivation. When people see one person doing that, they’ll get motivated and do it.”
“It may not be your child, but it’s someone sitting out here. So yes, there is something you can do. There is someone who really wants to go to work. There is someone who wants to go to school.”
Limited Mental Health Services
By Christian Cameron
SANTA ANA--- It is a Saturday afternoon, and the organization Clothing the Homeless is preparing to hand out free clothes at the Mental Health Clinic, located on South Main Street.
Sue Sonnenburg, founder and coordinator of the organization, preps tables with clothes, as the homeless sit in another room quietly eating their food. She takes a break to talk, and explains that lack of services and shelters in Santa Ana for the Homeless “discourage [the homeless] from being alive”.
The Mental Health Association Homeless Multi-Service Center sees between 70 to 80 homeless people with mental health issues, and provides them with basic essentials each day, such as showers, food, counseling, and laundry, according to Tony Mundy, a lead worker for the organization.
The center is open 365 days, a year, from 6am to 3:30 pm. Despite the year round services, those who work for the organization and some of the homeless feel that there is still a lack of resources for homeless with mental health issues.
The Salvation Army shelter for men is the only homeless shelter in Santa Ana that allows for an extended period of overnight stay of up to two weeks. After the two weeks, it then requires a 30-day break before an individual is allowed to stay for another two weeks. Even then this shelter is only for men, and there is no permanent health shelter for the homeless with mentally health issues.
John Addington, 61, is a bipolar Buddhist that has lived in the area of Santa Ana since 1996. He has been going to the Mental Health Center on Main Street since 2006. He goes to the clinic as soon as it opens, and leaves when it closes. He stays at the computer center until 5pm. After closing time, he heads to a nearby bookstore until it is dark, and camps out on a random street at night with his few belongings.
Addington is not the only one who is forced to sleep elsewhere at night. Another man in the Mental Health Center on Main Street sleeps behind a trashcan every night, and there are plenty more who have to do this.
The Mental Health Services Act passed in 2004 and by “imposing a one percent income tax on personal income in excess of $1 million, the MHSA has generated approximately $1.478 billion through 2012-13. The 2014-15 Governor’s Budget projects the MHSA to generate $1.376 billion through2013-14 and $1.588 billion through 2014-15," according to the Mental Health Services Act Expenditure Report for 2014-2015.
With more than 1.4 billion dollars for mental health services, how is it that they cannot afford to provide yearlong overnight shelters for the homeless who are mentally ill?
In a location near the Mental Health Clinic on Main Street, along the train tracks, some homeless have cardboard shacks and shopping carts, which sometimes contain all their possessions. Some of them have mental illnesses and have no choice, but to sleep where they can or wander around.
Aside from the most basic need of shelters, the homeless with mental illnesses are only provided a small number of services. Their only entertainment within the Mental Health Center encompasses occasional excursions around Santa Ana and a pool table.
Looking around the main room of the Mental Health Center on Main Street only a few were lively, many looked exhausted, and were silent and uncomfortably sitting down.
Local Services for the Homeless
H.E.A.R.T. (Homeless Evaluation Assessment Response Team)
According to Santa Ana Police Department, HEART is a program implemented by Santa Ana’s Police Department on October 2012. Their goal is to get homeless people off the streets, get them proper services, and follow through with their progress until they are in a residence. The services they work with:
• AA programs
• Casa Pacifica
• Casa Teresa
• Dwight’s House
• Family Member
• Grey Hound
• Long Beach Veteran Affairs
• Mercy House
• OC Housing Authority
• OC Health Care Agency
• OC Mental Health Agency
• Phoenix House
• Salvation Army
• Sober Living Homes
• Social Security
• Save Our Selves
• Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)
• Veteran’s 1st
A group of organized homeless people led and created by homeless activist, Mossimo Marini on January 2014. The group is an “outreach to homeless and at-risk in Civic Center, Santa Ana.” The group gathers in front of the Court House next to the Public Library in Santa Ana every Friday at 3 pm, and tentatively on other days throughout the week. They speak out at city coucil meetings and with public officials in order to address the major issues with homelessness and what causes and facilitates it. Their long-term points are, “create access to affordable housing, single-residency occupancy (SRO) units, and community land trusts” and “implement restaurant meals program (RMP), allowing access to fresh prepared “hot meals” at local restaurants with EBT (CalFresh/food stamps).” Their intermediate points are, “Creation of homeless day center at the unused former OCTA bus terminal, to aid outreach efforts and fulfill needs requests” and “new investment into social enterprise programs that offer homeless people access to jobs and educational opportunities.” their immediate points are, “moratorium of ‘public camping’ and ‘public storage’ tickets within and around the Civic Center until needs of both are adequately addressed by city, county, and community stakeholders,” “creation of a storage facility near the Civic Center” and “increased access to clean bathrooms and other facilities.”
Written, compiled and created by UC Irvine's Spring '14 Community Reporting Class.
- Sanne Bergh
- Jennifer Cain
- Gricel Garcia
- Thao Ta
- Katie Licari
- Phuc Pham
- Kenia Torres
- Christian Cameron
- Hyosu Faulk