Will Orange County use the old bus terminal for the homeless?

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With Orange County expected to finalize its purchase of an old bus terminal in Santa Ana Tuesday, homeless advocates are hoping the facility will be dedicated to the area's large homeless population. 

The Santa Ana Transit Terminal, which has been shut down since December 2008, will be sold to the county for $3.3 million by the Orange County Transportation Authority, but officials have yet to say how they'll use the space.

Meanwhile, plans for a massive redevelopment of the Civic Center, where the terminal sits, are underway. The project, which is expected to revamp more than 20 buildings over two decades, could uproot the area's large homeless tent city when construction starts. 

Advocates have suggested the terminal could be part of the solution, offering bathrooms and storage space to homeless. The shuttered bus terminal is attached to the Orange County Health Care Agency building, making it an ideal location for offering services to the homeless at Civic Center.

Using the terminal for homeless services is not an entirely new idea. 

Since February, the county's been using the half-covered terminal to provide temporary shelter out of the rain and cold to the hundreds of homeless people who camp on the grounds of the Civic Center.

The county has been in negotiations and in the process of purchasing the terminal since last fall, but haven't come out with a long term plan for the space.

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do has said all options are on the table. He said initial phases of the Civic Center overhaul will not affect the homeless, but Do said he believes services for them should be built somewhere nearby. 

“I don’t believe that a workable solution is to build something, even a couple of miles away, and expect them to go there,” he said.

Services, like mobile locker space for the homeless, are already under development, but don't have a permanent home in the Civic Center. 

Santa Ana and Orange County have pitched in $75,000 each to launch a pilot project for a mobile check-in for the homeless.

"We really want to enhance this check-in center, by not only giving homeless individuals a place to put their belongings, but we want to  give them showers and bathrooms," said Kelly Reenders, executive director of the city of Santa Ana Community Development Agency, in March.

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