To provide and maintain a lifestyle that includes basic human needs – such as food, clothing and shelter seems like an easy task for most; however, to people who are homeless it maybe unattainable. When a homeless person does not have food and shelter, their world can come crashing down on them. Without intervention they may not be able turn around their lives and rejoin their family and friends in society. Stories vary as to how they became homeless, but all will find that the homeless crisis is a very real struggle of survival.
The urgency of the homeless crisis in Orange County has made the news over the last several years, but steps taken to help our homeless men and women have been insufficient. The problem is getting worse. With the release of statistics that over 250 homeless persons have died from various causes in 2018, a solution cannot come quick enough.
Introducing, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is proving to be a modern day champion of our poor and homeless population. He has met this crisis head-on as the presiding judge over a lawsuit on this issue. His rulings make it clear that homelessness will not be treated as a crime or tolerated in our society. Instead, Orange County and its cities must provide shelter to the homeless population before law enforcement can enforce anti-camping laws.
An encouraging movement has been seen by the County and its cities as they race to comply with the Judge Carter’s rulings. In the latest County PIT or Point-In-Time count of the homeless, 3,448 people were unofficially counted as homeless. The goal is to have the shelter bed capacity to match that number.
Santa Ana has been the County leader in providing new shelter facilities. New shelters have also opened in Anaheim and shelters are proposed for Placentia, Buena Park and Tustin. The number of shelter-beds still do not matched the need, but as cities fulfill their commitments, the burden of providing additional shelters will fall on the cities that have not contributed, making this a shared responsibility.
Once the need for shelter and food is resolved, a homeless person can take steps towards higher levels of basic needs fulfillment, self-improvement and independence. With proper guidance and motivation, the homeless person will have a path towards a better future. All cases are not equal. While some may only need that one boost, others with severe disabilities or mental health issues may require long-term assistance and affordable housing options. For those who choose not to accept shelter as a step forward, they can be helped in other ways. A homeless person recently said, “We cannot be satisfied to merely exist, we need to thrive and prosper to have respect given as well as the importance of respecting ourselves. “