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Housing and Homelessness

Nonprofit That Serves Unhoused Population Temporarily Saved From Eviction In City Of Orange

Tents and tarps are situated side-by-side in a homeless encampment on a sidewalk outside Angel Stadium, which is seen in the background. A bicyclist rides by the encampment in the foreground.
A homeless encampment made of tents and tarps lines the Santa Ana riverbed near Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, January 25, 2018.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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Mary's Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides essential services to the unhoused population in Orange County, is safe from being evicted for now. A federal judge has blocked the City of Orange from kicking the
all-volunteer group out of its city-owned rental property for six months.

Judge David O. Carter noted in his ruling yesterday that while the City of Orange has no immediate plans for the property, “having worked with Mary’s Kitchen for almost 30 years, the city is well aware of the critical services offered by the organization and the lack of alternatives.”

In its effort to remove Mary’s Kitchen from its current location on Struck Ave., the city correlated an increase in crime near that location with what they called a “change in clientele over the last few years,” making the site “an attractive nuisance.”

Judge Carter did not agree, saying that if Mary's Kitchen were to close,
“the City of Orange’s concerns around homelessness — that it harbors criminal activity and creates a public nuisance — will not disappear" and that "instead, the lack of a centralized service system will only magnify the underlying problem.”

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Brooke Weitzman, an attorney for Mary's Kitchen, welcomed the ruling

“The judge critically recognized the immediate threat to the safety of the people who are unhoused in Orange and the people who rely upon Mary's Kitchen for their day-to-day survival, if they were to take any steps to close it,” Weitzman said.

What started out in founder Mary McAnena’s kitchen with a four-burner stove in 1982 has since grown into a crucial resource that feeds an average of 200 people per day.

The group provides showers, laundry and a mailing address to unhoused people in the area. A monthly event sponsored by the group offers a day where families can access services from medical checkups and haircuts to free clothing and children’s activities.

A federally mandated 2019 survey found that 7,000 people were unhoused in Orange County.

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