Deal reached on relocating evicted California homeless

Jose Verdugo
Febrero 15, 2018

A federal judge hearing arguments over whether a Southern California county should be able to clear out a huge homeless encampment says he plans to take a field trip to the site alongside a dry river.

Orange County Catholic Worker, the main plaintiff in the lawsuit, argued that county officials have failed for years to provide affordable housing for the area's needy and that its homeless shelters are overcrowded.

"The county is working in good faith, and I think the judge trusts us", Spitzer said.

Carter asked for volunteers from the courtroom to be ready to walk the site and identify veterans and abused women who need assistance.

When homeless advocates heard the county was going to step up efforts to relocate tent-dwellers, they sought protection from the courts.

He said he believes Orange County has enough money to find a fix and should be spending it.

During Tuesday's hearing, he peppered advocates and county workers with questions about programs, policies and budgets.

Tuesday afternoon was spent with both sides negotiating in private until they developed the framework of a deal by the end of the day.

Details are still being hashed out about longer-term housing alternatives and allegations by homeless advocates that police in several Orange County cities pushed people to the riverbed by forcing them off sidewalks and streets.

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"We're going to solve it right here", Carter said.

Beyond the motel rooms, the county can quickly add 32 beds to its homeless center in Anaheim, which still hasn't fully opened.

"We pledge up to 400 motel rooms, immediately", County Supervisor Andrew Do told the court, adding that the county would also add beds to other facilities and could put up a tent on a county-owned parking lot if space was needed.

There's also a fleet yard in Orange that can be used to erect a tent to set up 100 beds; and there's also room near the Orange County Registrar of Voters' office on Grand Avenue in Santa Ana for more beds.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter also is demanding Tuesday that Orange County officials provide answers to what federal funding is available to feed and temporarily house people if they are moved.

Carter made it clear to the plaintiffs and defendants in the litigation that he was impatient for a solution to the homeless problem along the riverbed, which has presented problems ranging from environmental hazards to rising crime and an inability of bikers and hikers to use the public trails.

The county faced another lawsuit filed last week alleging that closing the encampment violates the rights of disabled people living there. Last week, Carter granted a temporary restraining order when county officials made it clear to the plaintiffs who brought the suit that they meant to begin enforcing anti- camping and trespass laws along the riverbed.

They said a nearby shelter has never reached full capacity and that the homeless were given notice that the trail would be closed for cleanup.

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