Over the past few months, authorities cleaned up a large homeless camp along the Santa Ana River in California. The bike path once was home to over 700 homeless people, and the trash they left included a staggering amount of debris, needles, and feces.
According to the OC Register, the Orange County Public Works cleaned up two miles of what used to be a string of homeless camps between January 22 and March 3. In addition to approximately 13,950 hypodermic needles and 5,279 pounds of hazardous waste, the Public Works crews hauled off 404 tons of trash. The 5,279 pounds of hazardous waste includes human waste, pesticides, and propane.
The OC Voice reports that the county provided motel vouchers for a month’s stay for some homeless people. The county also directed some homeless to shelters, while others were taken to treatment centers and mental health facilities. The exact future of those living temporarily in motels is uncertain. In the meantime, The Los Angeles Times says the city is assessing those staying in motels to connect them to services. The homeless’ specific whereabouts are being kept confidential for privacy reasons.
There were homeless residents who called the bike trail home for as long as a decade. Tackling the homeless camp involved county organization, the court system, and homeless service providers. The Los Angeles Times notes that chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Andrew Do declared the efforts a success.
“This is a momentous occasion for the County of Orange and will undoubtedly shape how we address issues of homelessness moving forward.”
Do may be right, and other cities may take note of Orange County’s tactics.
A similar homeless crisis plagues major cities across the United States. Major cities in California, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco routinely battle the problem of the homeless and their camps. The Los Angeles Times details that the city’s Bureau of Sanitation is looking for $17 million to fund more homeless sweeps. This number is a huge leap from the current budget of $6.4 million for this fiscal year and $5.4 million for last fiscal year.
Further up north in San Jose, California, ABC reports the cleanup of a homeless camp called “Googleville” last month, displacing around 100 homeless people. Advocates want campsites set up with portable bathrooms, whereas the city officials discuss plans to open 600 affordable housing options in the near future.