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Joanna Clark, San Juan Capistrano

So the Orange County Board of Supervisors turned down the mayors of Orange County cities to put the homeless shelter in Santiago Canyon. Good for them!  An out-of-sight, out-of-mind shelter is supposed to help the homeless overcome their plight?

Homelessness can be caused by any number of causative factors, but poverty most likely ranks highest, given that Orange County has the fifth highest income threshold in the nation, $84,000 which qualifies as low-income in high-cost Orange County. Other factors include lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poor physical or mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, family and relationship breakdown, domestic violence, physical and/or sexual abuse. Any one of these factors can cause a person to become homeless.

What the homeless does not need are out-of-sight, out-of-mind NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) shelters. If we truly want to help the homeless, we need to provide a range of services that will allow them to return to society. And, from day one, we need to make them feel like they are part of our community.

The Fairview Development Center, formally Fairview Hospital, is ideally located for a homeless center, where a continuum of services from early intervention, shelter, health care and a range of counseling and rehabilitation services could be provided.

If the county were to establish a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program, similar to Public Law 93-203, where the homeless could receive vocational training at Orange Coast Community College and on-the-job training at local businesses willing to sign onto the program, the homeless could rebuild their lives and integrate back into society.

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comments (1)

  • Thank you, Joanna for your letter. Let me add that every city in every county in CA is required to zone some land in it’s Master Plan SB-2 as required by State law. SB-2 is a designation showing that property is suitable for emergency shelter for homeless people. That emergency shelter can take many forms, that is up to the cities. When folks become homeless, they face a dizzy array of problems few, if any, are able to adequately cope with. They need access to public transportation (bus) not widely available in South Orange County. They need access to Social Service agencies. And they need access to medical care. The longer a homeless person remains homeless, the more it cost the community for medical care. There is, in addition to Fairview, a 100 acre site in the “Great Park’ area of Irvine that the County owns, is zoned properly, is close to Kaiser and Hoag hospital. The only thing holding it back from becoming a “world-class” facility is local politics and the NIMBY attitude of the community. Our homeless population has grown dramatically in the last 4 years. We are seeing the beginning of the effects of the Opioid epidemic as well as housing prices that few can afford. I hope the citizen of San Juan Capistrano will be supportive of their necessary contribution to helping solve this major problem.

    Bonnie Benton

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