Conservative residents in Orange County, a wealthy enclave in Southern California just south of Los Angeles, are furious after supervisors voted to spend over $70 million on permanent housing for the homeless.
Even worse, homeless people may be temporarily housed in tents inside three conservative Orange County cities including Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Irvine.
The Orange County Register reports:
Supervisors voted Monday for Orange County to spend $70.5 million on permanent housing for the homeless, and to create temporary homeless camps in Irvine, and possibly in Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel.
The vote comes a week after supervisors committed $20 million toward permanent housing for the homeless. The combined $90 million is likely the single largest appropriation ever committed by the county to fight homelessness, and signals a shift in the county’s strategy to solve the growing issue.
The decision came as supervisors admitted that they’ve failed to spend money that’s been available for homeless housing – tens of millions of dollars technically earmarked for mental health funding. Supervisors said they’d been misled by county staff as to what resources were available, though news reports for at least two years have pointed to the availability of up to $186 million.
Staff will advise supervisors in the coming weeks about how the county can acquire land or renovate buildings. It’s unclear when actual construction, or acquisition of housing, might begin.
For homeless advocates, the vote was a welcome surprise.
“It’s really great to see the county finally… take steps to ending the housing crisis in Orange County,” said Brooke Weitzman, an attorney who this year sued the county on behalf of the homeless.
Monday’s vote emerged from negotiations in that ongoing lawsuit, which targeted the county’s efforts to dismantle the homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River Trail. As part of an agreement in that case, the county in February moved nearly 700 people to local motels for 30-day stays.
But as motel vouchers began to expire on Friday, and the county prepared to move people to other temporary shelters, attorneys for the homeless alleged there isn’t enough capacity to shelter all of those who were being moved. Lawyers asked U.S. District Judge David O. Carter – who is presiding in the lawsuit – to intervene.
The temporary camps which could include actual tents being set up on county land has local residents infuriated.
In response, Irvine Mayor Don Wagner called an emergency city council meeting Tuesday evening to discuss options, including filing a lawsuit.
“I’m very disappointed by the county’s effort to shift a problem to Irvine that it had in Anaheim in the riverbed,” Wagner said.
The Gateway Pundit spoke to a married couple who will be attending the emergency city council meeting Tuesday evening.