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Santa Ana To OC Cities: It’s Your Turn To Carry Homeless Burden

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A volunteer hands out food to homeless people camped in the Santa Ana Civic Center on April 12, 2018. The encampment was cleared soon after but many people still sleep on the streets. (LAist/Jill Replogle)
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On Tuesday night, the Santa Ana City Council took steps to officially oppose plans by Orange County to open a new homeless shelter in Santa Ana.

“We’ve had to shoulder and carry this responsibility for years, if not decades,” said Councilman Vicente Sarmiento.

He and other councilmembers directed the city manager to draft a resolution opposing a county shelter that would replace and be bigger than the one currently in downtown Santa Ana.

He said Santa Ana spends about $17 million each year to help the homeless. And it’s time for other Orange County cities to step up.

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“Irvine has plenty of open space. You have the Fairview Center in Costa Mesa,” he said.

Sarmiento is hopeful the county will agree to place the shelter elsewhere but he’s not ruling out going to court.

Santa Ana is already suing the county over allegations that it "dumps" homeless people from other parts of the county in the city. Residents in south county cities have opposed opening homeless shelters in their region.

Santa Ana residents have become increasingly vocal in recent months about feeling that they continue to shoulder the bulk of the county effort to help residents who are homeless.

“I want the homeless out of my city,” said Marcela Prado, the owner of a travel agency in Santa Ana’s historic business district. She operates inside a quinceañera store, several blocks from a homeless shelter.

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“We have a lot of homeless here because of that shelter,” she said.

She’s in favor of opening shelters elsewhere but understands why people are against it.

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