Santa Ana residents, mayor say it's time for other cities to host cold weather shelter for homeless

Jessica De Nova Image
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Santa Ana residents say it's time for other OC cities to host shelter
Santa Ana is set to open a local armory as a shelter for the homeless. But some say it's time for other Orange County cities to do their part.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Members of the Delhi neighborhood of Santa Ana and the city's mayor say it is time for other cities to take on the responsibility of hosting an emergency shelter after a U.S. district judge changed his mind unexpectedly last week, ruling to allow the county to reopen the National Guard Armory as a cold weather shelter.

On Thursday, many were at Delhi Park looking to get a little fresh air. It's where Marco Barrera grew up playing and now brings his little ones.

"This is the perfect vibe right now," Barrera said.

On a late October afternoon, Barrera pointed out there weren't many homeless people wandering the area, but as the sun began to set, more people carrying packs, blankets and wearing worn clothing arrived.

Many out enjoying the green space in the middle of a neighborhood and next to a school told Eyewitness News that they often see the transient community camp out here because the National Guard Armory next to the park historically served as a cold weather shelter.

"They take shelter here on the handball courts, even under the playground or by the restrooms over there, so it's been increasing over the years," Barrera said.

David Rodriguez, also there playing with his children Thursday, told Eyewitness News in Spanish that he's caught his children just as they were getting ready to pick up syringes and other drug paraphernalia off the ground.

Rodriguez said the reopening of the shelter was concerning for him.

After a break because of COVID-19, the armory was opening again as Orange County's cold weather shelter.

The ruling came from U.S. District Judge David Carter, who in earlier proceedings agreed with city leaders and the findings of an Orange County grand jury report released this past summer: South Orange County was in need of shelter beds.

A man set up an elaborate homeless encampment -- a makeshift wooden shed -- in Hollywood. The man says he's trying to survive homelessness with a different approach.

Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said Carter's change-of-mind came unexpectedly.

"It took us all by surprise. I was very disappointed, unfortunately because we were so optimistic about his first ruling the week before where he told the county that they should look elsewhere for another cold weather shelter," Sarmiento said. "We're not opposed to a cold weather shelter being stood up. We just feel that we have plenty of capacity here in Santa Ana and we already have two other shelters -- both the county's and the one that the city stood up."

The county's public information manager sent Eyewitness News the following statement:

The County of Orange has funding to support one cold weather shelter and it's at the Santa Ana Armory. The County seeks to place shelters such as where it will have the greatest benefit.

At this time we are working to procure another vendor to support the cold weather shelter at the Santa Ana Armory.

Parents at the park Thursday said they weren't against helping those in need, but it was time for other cities to share the responsibility.

"I don't find it fair how, you know, Santa Ana has to hold everything," Barrera said. "Just because we're maybe considered Latino community and other rich areas, they don't want that happening in theirs."

Eyewitness News reached out to Carter. He called back but said he could not comment on pending litigation.