Unite OC was formed to help the cities within Orange County develop effective solutions to the homeless issue. For far too long, our elected officials have struggled to develop real solutions despite the nearly $200 million dollar in funds that have been set aside to address the problem.
Homeless persons have been bounced from one city to another and most are still living on the streets. A solution has been needed for a long time, but the problem became too large to ignore in early 2018.
The problem came finally to a head after the Santa Ana Riverbed fiasco which culminated in March of 2018.
With nearly 700 people occupying an encampment of tents and makeshift shelters, sanitation problems, litter, crime and drug use became intolerable.
To find a solution, it was proposed that a portion of Irvine’s Great Park be allocated to relocate the “tent city.” Irvine residents protested, citing a lack of water, electricity, sanitation and the close proximity to residences and schools. All this would do is to shift the problem to a densely populated area.
It became clear that other sites were being looked at including sites in Laguna Niguel, San Clemente, Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. These cities all protested, citing the fact that many of the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless persons had been using hotel vouchers in these communities and residents had seen spikes in crime, public intoxication and drug use in public. As you can imagine, these cities were reticent to allow any further relocation to these residential communities.
This isn’t an issue of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), this is an issue of looking at the real problem.The simple fact of the matter is that a good portion of these people simply do not want aid or assistance.
Those who are abusing substances just want a place to abuse without consequence.
Those who suffer from mental illness cannot be forced to accept shelter or aid, as the laws have changed since the 1960s — a period during which people could be made wards of the State after an evaluation. Today, these people often roam the streets.
Of further concern is the number of sex offenders and ex-convicts intermixed with the homeless population. Everyone can agree that each subset of the homeless population is unique in their issues and as such, require different plans of action.
“Per ardua ad astra.” Through difficulties lead to the stars.
Unite OC is working to develop solutions that will help those who genuinely want and need help to find the resources they need to do so.
Another mission of ours is to get elected officials to look at the laws on the books and force changes to be made where necessary.
There is no good reason why drug addicts should be denied treatment if they want, but communities should be forced to live with their addiction if addicts don’t want treatment.
The mentally ill represent a unique problem. Without a way to contain them in a supervised environment, they can represent a danger to themselves and in some cases, a danger to others.
Simply providing an endless supply of rooms, dwellings or accommodations for the chronically homeless persons, many of whom do not want assistance, cannot continue at the taxpayer’s expense without a long-term solution.
This may requiring changing the laws because as we see it, ignoring the problem under the current state laws has clearly not worked.
If elected officials won’t start making changes, it’s time to change our elected officials.