Take a moment and talk to a neighbor. I am sure they will have stories of encounters with homeless citizens. We all know that the homeless situation in our county is out of hand. For too many years those in charge have simply shuffled the responsibility for this problem from place to place. I feel strongly that the Board of Supervisors should take the lead in solving this problem.
As the people elected to set policy in our county, the Board of Supervisors must step into the spotlight and begin showing everyone they take this issue seriously. It is no longer enough to put that responsibility solely at the feet of the Orange County Homeless Czar, Susan Price. Ms. Price has made it clear to the Supervisors that there is a way to make a difference. “With adequate financial resources and a sense of urgency, we’ll be able to make a change,” Price told the Supervisors in a meeting. She is absolutely correct.
Why haven’t the Supervisors made it a priority to handle this problem? Why isn’t there a sense of urgency surrounding this issue? Why does the county continually fail to fund efforts to fix the homeless issue once and for all?
Homelessness is a complicated issue. One of the biggest problems is that every city has its own set of laws addressing the situation. What is lacking is a coordinated effort from the county level to bring cities into agreement. I believe the Board of Supervisors needs to lead that charge. They need to bring cities together and get them to agree on a set of laws that are enforced in every city so that law enforcement doesn’t have to deal with the continued conflicts caused by the current municipal codes in place. To me, this is a start, but there is more that can be done.
I am going to propose that the Board stabilize people through providing shelter, moving them to permanent housing, and implementing assistance programs to keep them in their housing. I am also proposing that the Board of Supervisors become the leading voice on this issue by lobbying the State legislature and forcing them to pass laws that make it easier for cities to solve these problems they face. By creating a unified plan that can be rolled out in every city in Orange County, the Board of Supervisors will finally solve the problem of homelessness.
Homeless advocates will tell you that creating stability is the first step towards getting people off the streets. This begins by providing some sort of shelter that enables people to sleep inside, away from the harsh elements like scorching summer heat or fall rains and cold weather. It needs to begin with the county providing adequate funding to enable shelters to remain open, servicing the needs of our citizens living on the streets.
Once in a temporary shelter, homeless advocates can then help the homeless person gain access to their own social security funds and get their papers in order so they can live a more normal life. Once the homeless person has a form of income they quickly find themselves able to pay for permanent shelter. With the help of organizations like City Net, homeless people can and will find permanent shelter and begin a new life.
The role of the Board of Supervisors should be to shepherd the process. Provide assistance programs that enable homeless to stay in permanent shelters once they get that far. Provide funding so organizations like City Net can continue to work with people even after they are off the streets to insure their continued growth and prosperity.
I plan to be the driving force within the Board of Supervisors to make these things reality. If you elect me your next Supervisor, I promise to work tirelessly to get your fellow citizens off the streets once and for all.