Solving Orange County’s homelessness problem in an afternoon is quite a job for anyone. But an important job that U.S. District Judge David O. Carter is willing to take on as advocates squared off in federal court against officials from Orange County, Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Orange this week to prevent them from enforcing anti-camping laws along the Santa Ana riverbed and in the surrounding cities.
Carter said county officials “have the power to move people” out of the riverbed, but that he has the authority to make sure it’s done in a “humane” manner guaranteeing the constitutional rights of the transients.
Orange County Catholic Worker, the main plaintiff in the lawsuit, argued that county officials have failed for years to provide affordable housing for the area’s needy and that its homeless shelters are overcrowded. Orange County officials, however, say they have plenty of beds available. The problem, they say, is that many transients have refused outreach services, choosing to live on the streets rather than abide by the rules at shelters, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Carter said a solution will be in hand soon. “It’s going to be hours, not days,” the judge said.
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