Business & Economy

OC board OKs plans to house homeless in deserted bus terminal

File: The Santa Ana Transit Terminal has been closed since 2008 but was temporarily reopened during bad weather this year to provide a bit of shelter to the more than 400 homeless people living in the Orange County Civic Center area.
File: The Santa Ana Transit Terminal has been closed since 2008 but was temporarily reopened during bad weather this year to provide a bit of shelter to the more than 400 homeless people living in the Orange County Civic Center area.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A plan to transform a defunct Santa Ana bus terminal into a 300-bed transitional shelter for the homeless moved closer to reality Tuesday.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.4 million contract with Midnight Mission to provide security and a variety of support services to the soon-to-be-opened facility. Also approved: a proposal from City Net to handle nonprofit groups that provide aid at the Santa Ana Civic Center.

First District Supervisor Andrew Do called for public support for the plan during the Tuesday afternoon meeting, a call that was lauded by some of his fellow supervisors.

"My motivation has always been that we owe each other an obligation to take care of each other,'' Do said. "There is a social compact we make as a society.''

"This is a major event in our history," said Third District Supervisor Todd Spitzer. "You're right where you need to be."

Midnight Mission, which has provided aid to the homeless since 1914, plans to "provide safety net services, including shelter and connections to service providers, and to be low-barrier and engagement rich to provide people experiencing homelessness a pathway to service connections, health care, housing and stability,” according to their proposal to the board.

The latest approvals cap off a busy month of activity concerning the board and the county's homeless.

Do's original plan for the terminal's change was approved by the board on Sept. 6, with the mandate to staff that the shelter would be open in 30 days. That means the targeted opening day for the new shelter would be Oct. 6., according to Do's office. On Sept. 13, the board also approved $8 million for homeless housing and tapped Mercy House Living Centers to run the county’s first permanent year-round shelter in Anaheim.

As for the Santa Ana Transit Terminal, this wouldn't be the first time it's helped the homeless. The county has used it as a temporary shelter to shield the homeless from the elements since February.