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Tear down the bureaucratic wall that fails to provide even simple housing for O.C.’s homeless

Tear down the bureaucratic wall that fails to provide even simple housing for O.C.’s homeless
The U.S. flag flies near a homeless person's tent at an encampment beside the Santa Ana River in Anaheim on Feb. 20. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

A federal judge orders humanity and dignity be restored to the homeless residents on the Santa Ana riverbed. A room with supportive services was required.

Homeless advocates worked day and night to make sure the homeless people got a motel room and not a jail cell. They worked to ease the transition from homelessness to shelter.

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The whole issue of homelessness is all screwed up, as you must know by now from all the news articles. The county supervisors and city representatives claim all day long that the homeless people will not accept services from three cops loaded with ammo, nightsticks and Tasers, offering a night in a shelter.

However, offer them a stay in a motel with a bathroom and a shower, a door that locks, plus a comfy bed and — bang — you've got a line of 200 people waiting for up to 12 hours, without food or water, for a roof over their heads.

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These homeless people include struggling people in wheelchairs, people missing legs and most missing the reality of a genuine life in a house. This uncertainty has been forced on them by a system that displays no sympathy or concern for the indigent.

The county offered nothing that was not required by the federal judge, and in many cases the county leaders had to be reminded of what was court-ordered.

The county did not even offer water or food to the 200 homeless people waiting in the cold on that freezing Tuesday afternoon. Children from a foster home saw it on the news and brought food and water. People with a heart, children with a heart, children with respect for humanity.

One older lady and her husband wept when they were shown their nice room in the motel. He has one lung and is in cancer treatment, while she is not much better. Why, you might ask, are these people left on the streets? Lack of humanity at the highest levels of government in Orange County.

Where do we go from here? The advocates need help keeping the people in real housing and getting services for the infirm. Fighting the bureaucracy is just a wall to be torn down, like the wall in Berlin.

For that you need a lot of people who care. We do not have Ronald Reagan here now, but I can hear his call: "Orange County Board of Supervisors, tear down that wall!"

MIKE ROBBINS, a volunteer with Housing is a Human Right OC and The People's Homeless Task Force, lives in Anaheim.

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