Protests Push O.C. to Kill Its First Real Plan to Help the Homeless

The affluent county finally authorized a concrete plan to address a housing crisis, but forceful opposition from residents put them 'back to Square One.'

2 minute read

March 29, 2018, 10:00 AM PDT

By Katharine Jose


haymarketrebel / Flickr

A week after Orange County devised and announced its "most concrete effort yet to find housing for the unsheltered," the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take it back. 

The plan, which involved installing three temporary camps for the homeless on county land in three different cities, was quickly and forcefully opposed by residents of those cities. 

As the cost of living continues trise across the country, so does the number of people without homes and the number of informal settlements. Different cities are responding to those settlements in different ways: Tacoma, for example, tried to move everyone into one big camp, while Spokane installed boulders as a deterrent. Los Angeles may be setting up trailers on city property, while Las Vegas, with the eight-largest homeless population in the country, is in the process of buying the land underneath a large informal settlement in order to make it permanent. 

The events In Orange County were put into motion several months ago, when the county official began the process of removing about 1,000 homeless individuals who were living in camps along the Santa Ana River.  A few weeks later, in response to a lawsuit, a federal judge ordered them to stop the evictions unless or until the county could provide somewhere else for those people could live for a minimum of 30 days. 

Shortly after, the evictions began again, but this time the riverbed residents were moved into county motel rooms paid for by vouchers. 

As the 30 days expired, county officials agreed to extend motel vouchers, but only on a case-by-case basis; around the same time, Orange County authorized $20 million towards permanent housing for the homeless, and then $70 million for permanent housing and also towards establishing three temporary camps in three different cities on land already owned by the county. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, affluent Orange County "faces special challenges because it has a relatively sparse infrastructure of services and support for homeless people;" it's unclear what will happen now that the most recent vote by the Board of Supervisors "throws the county's efforts to address the region's homelessness crisis back to Square One." 

Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.