Employees fearful due to homeless people around Santa Ana Civic Center, union says

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An Orange County public employees union is calling for a plan to reduce homelessness at the Santa Ana Civic Center, where more than 400 homeless people live. (KABC)

Orange County's largest public-employees union is calling for a plan to address rampant homelessness in and around the Santa Ana Civic Center, citing squalid conditions and concerns over safety.

More than 400 homeless people live in the Civic Center area, according to a recent report by Santa Ana city staff. The location has become a hub where members of the rising homeless population receive assistance from various organizations - within short walking distance of several government buildings.

Public workers are "stepping over used syringes, urine, feces, and they're wondering what's around the next corner and if they're going to be safe," said Jennifer Muir Beuthin, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

The union recently filed formal action with the city, county and in court, demanding that something be done about the issue.

Igmar Rodes said some fellow homeless people "are afraid of the cops."

"Other homeless are afraid of the other homeless because they suffer mental illness," he said.

Santa Ana police shot a homeless man in the Civic Center encampment Monday.

"The attorneys don't come down on the weekend anymore because it's just dangerous," said Alan Clow, an investigator with the county public defender's office.

The Employees Association is pushing for short-term solutions such as better lighting, security and cleaning of the area. The union has also proposed the use of a nearby vacant bus depot as a permanent homeless shelter.

The Santa Ana City Council voted Tuesday to pay an outside agency $90,000 to help reduce homelessness. The county recently hired a social-care coordinator.

Muir Beuthin said the county Board of Supervisors should assume responsibility for resolving homelessness at the Civic Center.

"The people who live here deserve, the people who work here deserve, the public deserves some leadership so we can address the issue in a meaningful way," she said.

Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett did not respond to a request for comment.
Related Topics:
homelessunionsgovernmentSanta AnaOrange County
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