By Daniel Correa
The County of Orange is moving all the people now living in the Santa Ana Riverbed, between Ball Road and the 5 Freeway, to literally nowhere.
Not to another open space -- which it can’t. Not to an approved shelter -- which it won’t. Nor to any appropriate facility -- of which none exists.
This means the displaced will move out to our streets, within our neighborhoods and into our parks, open spaces and the grassy areas of our community.
The homeless living in what is now dubbed “skid river,” have been there for years, some for decades. Only in recent time has the population dramatically increased.
Yet, they are citizens. They live here, sleep here, eat here -- and some, if not many, work here. Some receive social security; some are on disability.
As a resident of this community I propose a solution to homelessness:
1) Establish an open space area away from residential and business communities;
2) Service it with portable bathrooms and showers;
3) Man it with law-enforcement and medical personnel;
4) If at all possible, provide food service from existing sources.
The objective here is to bring the cities together to discuss this concept, and to manage homelessness, such that not any one city is over burdened. Since the situation is shared by cities lining the Santa Ana Riverbed, the resolution and management of the issue should be coordinated at the county level.
The health and well-being of these riverbed dwellers is key to avoid health issues from being spread through the community. It is extremely naive of our government to assume this situation will disappear, as it can only grow further.
If we do not act now, the state government will then enforce laws that will result in us having little latitude to assure the safety of our community.
We need to have a solution to homelessness. We need to plan now.
Daniel Correa is on the Orange City Planning Commission, and is a former city planner and police officer.
A solution for homelessness is needed now