Orange County Supervisors approve permanent homeless shelter in Anaheim

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Orange County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a permanent, year-round homeless shelter in Anaheim.

At the board hearing, supporters of the proposed shelter wore orange tags with a picture of Pope Francis. Those opposed wore yellow stickers saying "protect our neighborhoods." They packed the hearing room to address Orange County Supervisors.

"Whether you are homeless, home-full or a homeowner, we all deserve a safe place," said Leigh White, a supporter of the proposed shelter.

Dozens of people spoke in favor of the plan, many representing churches in neighboring cities who work with the homeless. Elected leaders also voiced their support, including the mayors of Anaheim and Orange.

"We are fully in support of this concept and effort at a homeless shelter for those in need of housing in Orange County," said Orange Mayor Teresa Smith.

The county would buy a vacant building, located next to the 91 Freeway on Kraemer Place. It's in an industrial area, but it's still too close to home for Mike Chew, who lives about a mile away.

"We currently have a homeless issue. Our fear is that it's just going to get worse because it'll act as a magnet to additional homeless in the area," Chew said.

The shelter would house families with children, so felons with outstanding warrants and convicted sex offenders would not be allowed in.

The shelter would have 200 beds and provide services for the homeless. County officials say that helps only a fraction of the 4,500 homeless sleeping on the streets, but it's a start.

"Doing nothing to address the homeless issue is far more expensive than doing something, in terms of being proactive," said Karen Roper, with the Orange County Community Services.

The board listened to comments from 85 people before voting unanimously to buy the building and open the shelter.
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