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Housing and Homelessness

Orange County To Get A Cold Weather Shelter Following Months of Uncertainty

A man in a black jacket with a red hoodie over his head looks down at piles of clothing and a soaked red sleeping bag on the ground next to a road. A bus station advertising board is in the background.
Rick Davitt with his soaked possessions in Huntington Beach, including his sleeping bag, after they got drenched from the rain in January 2023.
(Jill Replogle
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The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve a contract with the nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless to run an emergency shelter at a gymnasium in Fullerton's Independence Park.

The shelter is expected to open Feb. 1 and will likely stay open at least through the end of March.

The Backstory

For years, the county ran an overnight shelter during the winter months at the National Guard Armory in Santa Ana, and, until recently, at the Armory in Fullerton. This year, when the county put out a request for proposals to operate a cold weather shelter, no one responded. Looking for a solution, officials tried to strike a deal to open a shelter at a Salvation Army location in Santa Ana, but city leaders there fought it and the deal fell through.

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Why It Matters

Unlike some of the other homeless shelters in Orange County, cold weather shelters typically only operate at night for a few months in the winter. Requirements are minimal for getting a bed, which makes it easier for people needing a warm place to stay to get access quickly.

Advocates say this kind of bare bones model is not the most effective way to get people into permanent housing, but it's a key part of the shelter system that saves lives when nighttime temperatures are dangerously cold.

Go deeper: As Winter Arrives, Orange County Still Has No One To Run Its Cold Weather Shelter

LAist staff contributed to this report.

Updated January 24, 2023 at 2:48 PM PST
This story has been updated with details from the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.