ACLU Project Targets Orange County Dick Moves Against Homelessness, Shelter Space

Categories: News Roundups

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In any given year, Orange County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, is home to thousands of people forced to live and sleep on the streets because they cannot obtain housing or shelter, notes the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

And so, the ACLU o' SoCal has announced the launch of its Dignity for All Project to address civil and human rights issues arising from homelessness here.

Heather Maria Johnson, staff attorney with the ACLU SoCal's Orange County office in Orange, heads the new project that aims to advocate for needed policy changes to prevent and end homelessness in the county--including expanding access to emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, and medical care and opposing the criminalization of homelessness.

"People never choose to be homeless," says Johnson in an ACLU SoCal statement. "Orange County is home to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Sadly, thousands of people live in misery and despair in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. The Dignity for All Project will shine a bright light on the vast inequality of living conditions."

She's got street people cred, having worked previously at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington, DC, where she successfully challenged local government and law enforcement practices criminalizing homelessness, such as ordinances prohibiting sleeping in public, panhandling or sharing food with homeless individuals.

Some of the types of battles the ACLU SoCal hints Johnson may enter include the recent community opposition to a year-round shelter in Fullerton and Anaheim's anti-camping ordinance.

"Human beings should not have to sleep on sidewalks or in parks and face criminal penalties because they are homeless," Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of the ACLU SoCal's Orange County office, says in the nonprofit's statement. "Everyone deserves a safe place to live."

For more on the Dignity for All Project, visit www.aclusocal.org/dignity.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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11 comments
carlashworth
carlashworth

""People never choose to be homeless," says Johnson in an ACLU SoCal statement. "Orange County is home to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Sadly, thousands of people live in misery and despair in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. The Dignity for All Project will shine a bright light on the vast inequality of living conditions." Gosh Johnson, you are so totally aware of the real OC and thus the best person to determine the  frailties, follies of us OCers. Disneyland is located in a small part of OC, therefore OC claims to be the happiest place on earth. But really it isn't happy for the homeless. Wow! boy, did you sum it up for all of us and now I writhe in  chagrin. As an OC lifer, I have seen many acts of charity done for the homeless. Churches have done most of the outreach, you know, those places where people work effortlessly without holding their hand out to the government to be compensated for their charity, because then it isn't charity . You demand another government agency committed to feeding itself firt and very well before casting its crumbs towards the homeless, as for your initial analysis about OC being a wealthy place. you are right except most of its wealth is concentrated into the hands of the few. the median income for OC is just shy of $60,000 a year. would you recommend taxing their already overtaxed income to make everyone in OC feel happier?

carlashworth
carlashworth

""People never choose to be homeless," says Johnson in an ACLU SoCal statement. "Orange County is home to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Sadly, thousands of people live in misery and despair in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. The Dignity for All Project will shine a bright light on the vast inequality of living conditions." Gosh Johnson, you are so totally aware of the real OC and thus the best person to determine the  frailties, follies of us OCers. Disneyland is located in a small part of OC, therefore OC claims to be the happiest place on earth. But really it isn't happy for the homeless. Wow! boy, did you sum it up for all of us and now i close in chagrin.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

I was reading that article in the Costa Mesa Current about the Vanguard University counting the homeless and I practically spit my coffee out because  you can't provide them services when you have no comprehensive service for a bunch of bums, there are hardly any services for these people and there is no money or jobns in the county for them, employers will not hire the homeless in most case so if they aren't being offered the money services then you might as well fergidaboudit. I however lost my apartment recently because I could not come up with the $750.00 to pay half the rent on a $1450.00 per month aparment condo. There is no job growth/creation in Costa Mesa even with a $7 Million dollar city surplus. I have asked a few charities and they do not have the rental assistance available because of a limited budget. But then you have mayor Righeimer donating mattresses to the fire department. And suing the police union and then the DA goes and raids the police union associated with the Righeimer scam after he throws people at the Anchor Bay mobile home park out of thier trailers for his pet project that'll end up on auction block.

ItsNotThatRadical
ItsNotThatRadical

Coddling the homeless and facilitating untreated mental illness and addiction is not the answer.

Mental health and drug/alcohol treatment is shamefully underfunded.  Provide shelter in conjunction with mandatory mental health/drug/alcohol treatment from licensed and specially trained physicians to include mandatory medication where appropriate.

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

swip-swip-swip, OC homelessness successfully swept under the rug. Thanks, commenters!

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

She's got street people cred, having worked previously at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington, DC.

What does Washington DC have to do with Orange Couty California?

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"People never choose to be homeless," says Johnson in an ACLU SoCal statement. "Orange County is home to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth"

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME.

Hey dipshit, Disneyland is for KIDS not for homeless people that can't even afford to get in at 32+ bucks a pop for a ticket, and not to mention that they've turned the freaking place into a security fortress. I read one time where they said the tickets were upwards of $70 bucks.

DaniGirl949
DaniGirl949

"People never choose to be homeless," says Johnson in an ACLU.

 (BIG FAT LIE)!

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

I'm torn on the homeless problem.  First, I will say that any law making being human a crime is dead wrong. Criminalizing homelessness is terrible and completely evil.  Yes, I said evil.  

The parts I struggle with are that many people do choose to be homeless and the strong arming of communities in order for them to put in permanent housing for the homeless.  I know a whole community of "surf bums" who choose to live out of their cars and live "in the wind" as they call it.  Many of them get public assistance to boot.  Cities, like Laguna Beach, have been the on the receiving end of lawsuits and have put in permanent shelters.  The one in the canyon is expensive and has a pocket of crime right around it.  I frequent the adjacent dog park and have been on the wrong end of a verbal assault for no reason.  I have also watched on, two occasions, police have to pull shelter residence out of the drainage pipe there where they were doing drugs.  

n2bigmuscle
n2bigmuscle topcommenter

ACLU are such losers.  First and foremost they are attorneys and not social workers, need I say anymore?

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