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200-bed homeless shelter opens in Santa Ana

200-bed homeless shelter opens in Santa Ana
A wall-size mural of U.S. District Judge David O. Carter and the phrase “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory” adorns the new interim homeless shelter wall in Santa Ana. “The Link” started admitting people Thursday night. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A 200-bed temporary homeless shelter opened Thursday in Santa Ana as part of an ongoing legal dispute launched by homeless advocates against several Orange County cities.

The Link will house homeless men, women and families and provide various support services to connect them with permanent housing.

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U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has praised the city for the shelter and called it “a role model for the county.”

Carter is overseeing the lawsuit, which was filed in response to the removal of a tent city near Angel Stadium.

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“Judge Carter wants to get things done, and I think we have strengthened his hand,” Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido said Thursday at the shelter’s opening event. “Other cities can’t say they can’t do it because we did it.”

Beds in the new interim homeless shelter, The Link, in Santa Ana.
Beds in the new interim homeless shelter, The Link, in Santa Ana. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

With the addition of The Link, Santa Ana now accounts for 781, or about 70%, of the shelter beds in the county.

The fact is a rallying cry for the city. A major contributor to the ongoing lawsuit has been the inaction of south county cities.

“It’s unfortunate when other cities in the county don’t take on the issue,” Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides said at the event. “I am asking respectfully for all other cities in the county to follow.”

The shelter was completed in 28 days following the project’s announcement in late October. It’s located in a large business building in a commercial area at 2320 Red Hill Ave.

The nonprofit Mercy House will run the facility. The Santa Ana-based organization also operates the Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter in Anaheim.

A mural with the phrase “With Hope and Trust we all rise” adorns the entrance to the new interim homeless shelter, The Link, in Santa Ana.
A mural with the phrase “With Hope and Trust we all rise” adorns the entrance to the new interim homeless shelter, The Link, in Santa Ana. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Larry Haynes, executive director of Mercy House, said it’s the quickest project with which he’s been involved.

“We sucked it up and pulled out all the stops,” he said.

The shelter has four dormitories, bathrooms and a large dining area.

There are 90 beds for men, 60 for women, 40 for families and a room for up to five couples. There are also accommodations for pets.

A few large murals adorn the walls of the building, including one of Carter with the words, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”

Haynes said the shelter will start admitting people Thursday night, though it won’t reach capacity for several months.

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