There are many surprising and heart-wrenching stories behind many of the individuals who find themselves homeless. Some have lost their homes due to the loss of a job or loved one, while others are fleeing domestic violence. Other contributing factors may include the lack of affordable housing, low wages, substance abuse or mental health issues. In a 2017 study conducted in concert with the Orange County United Way, Jamboree Housing, UC Irvine, and the Association of California Cities-Orange County and other regional stakeholders, the findings point to securing or retaining jobs with sustainable wages and finding or retaining affordable housing, as the number one and two most identified reasons for homelessness. In fact, these two circumstances alone account for 76 percent of the basis for homelessness.
Current City Efforts
- Dedicating a full-time Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officer for homeless outreach, safety and security in conjunction with the existing HEART program
- Enacting a new section to the Santa Ana City Code to improve health and safety conditions in the Civic Center
- Recruiting and hiring a new Homeless Services Manager
- Creating an Interdepartmental Committee on Homelessness
- Holding Outreach and Engagement Fairs in the Civic Center
- Minimizing the number of needles found in the surrounding area to protect our employees and the general public, including children who use our library
In addition, a Quality of Life Team (QOLT) was formed in late January of 2018 to address the number of concerns related to municipal code violations, property storage and improper use of public/private property. The formation of the QOLT has both increased efficiency in addressing quality of life issues and increased response times. This multidisciplinary team is comprised of staff from the offices of SAPD, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Community Development, Community Preservation, City Attorney, and the City Manager. The process of bringing all stakeholders together in the field was modeled on best practices utilized by several cities throughout the country. The team was trained by the City Attorney and Police Department prior to responding to locations identified by the City Council, city residents and businesses regarding health and safety issues throughout the City. By week fifteen, 846 individuals were contacted and 585 locations were served by the Quality of Life Team. Property taken on a street, alleyway, bike trail, park or a public right of way by the QOLT team, can be retrieved by calling to make an appointment at 714-571-4223. Property is kept for 90 days.
As of April 10, 2018, the OC Health Care Agency, in partnership with the City of Santa Ana Police Department, completed assessments of all homeless individuals residing in the Civic Center. The County provided referrals and shelter options and connections to services for the homeless individuals and to date there has been 234 assessments for emergency shelters, residential substance abuse treatment programs, recuperative care and mental health treatment programs. As of April 12th, 2018, the Civic Center plaza was completely cleared.
Who Can I Call?
If you are a resident or business owner wishing to report a concern about homelessness such as abandoned property on City right-of-way, you may download the free MySantaAna application with an iPhone or Android and report service requests under Report Encampment. You may also contact Public Works Dispatch by calling (714) 647-3380.