Community effort needed on homelessness – Orange County Register

A woman was found dead along the Santa Ana River trail on Tuesday. She had been living in one of the tents that line the riverbed. She was 18 and homeless.

While a cause of death hasn’t been confirmed, it is hard to believe her station in life didn’t play a role.

It is another reminder that more must be done to combat homelessness in our community, which is up almost 8 percent since the last count. But for many, especially on city councils across the county, it is someone else’s problem. It’s Santa Ana’s problem. It’s Anaheim’s problem. It’s the county’s problem.

For far too long, our society has dropped its social ills at government’s doorstep and, after nearly 53 years of the federal “war on poverty,” it has little to show for it. But government has a strange way of measuring success, where increases in the welfare rolls are seen as a success, rather than focusing on boosting the numbers of those who no longer need a handout.

In speaking with Supervisor Todd Spitzer, County Executive Officer Frank Kim, Director of Care Coordinator Susan Price and other representatives of the county health agencies recently, they are keenly aware of the issues.

At the recently opened Bridges at Kraemer Place homeless shelter in Anaheim, the county looks to prove us wrong. The name “Bridges” is important, because it is seen as a bridge between homelessness and self-sufficiency, a place where the individual reasons for homelessness can be identified and people can be connected with the proper services. It’s just one piece of a larger countywide strategy.

“We’re not perfect, but we’re out there every day,” Frank Kim told us. “We’re trying to make a difference.”

But, despite their best efforts, homelessness is a multifaceted problem, likely beyond the resources of even the county. Cities, too, must come together and share the burden. It also requires more than government directives. The private sector has long proven itself better at…

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