According to a new report issued by the ACLU of Southern California, residents and volunteers in Orange County's homeless shelters say the facilities are often filthy, vermin-infested, and lack basics like hot water and functioning toilets.
The allegations of disfunction at OC shelters are laid out in the 100-page report, which also includes examples of extreme hot and cold temperatures, rain-flooded floors, and reports of sexual harassment by shelter staff. The county's largest shelter, The Courtyard, is a regular destination for emergency personnel. Seven people have died in the shelter since it opened in 2016, a figure that doesn't include shelter residents who died either en route to or at a hospital.
The ACLU alleges some of the conditions in the shelters may violate existing housing and health laws, as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act. The group said the report is intended to spur local officials to enact changes, but didn't rule out future litigation. The report also includes recommendations for improving shelter conditions and instituting a system of oversight.
This comes as Orange County is starting to invest more public dollars in building shelters to house the county's homeless population. KPCC/LAist has reached out to the shelters listed in the report, which became public Thursday morning, and will update this story when they respond. KPCC/LAist has also reported on conditions in Orange County and L.A. County shelters in the past.
Read Rina’s full story on LAist.com
We reached out to the County of Orange for a response and received this statement:
"The County of Orange is committed to ensuring our emergency shelters are safe for all our clients. Each emergency shelter has its own provider and complaint process. We work to ensure valid complaints are addressed by our service providers in a timely fashion.
We will take the time to review the report and will respond to it accordingly."
Rina Palta, a correspondent on KPCC's investigative team; one of her areas of expertise is homelessness
Miguel A. Pulido, Mayor of Santa Ana