Private solutions needed for homeless – Orange County Register

The riverbed homeless encampment continues to grow as the homeless are displaced from other areas in the county. But it may get a little smaller, if the Board of Supervisors gets its way.

The board is looking to “relocate 60 to 75 of the camp’s several hundred residents into housing by the end of the year,” the Register reported. The county is contracting with the nonprofit group City Net to achieve its aims, and while that’s far short of the thousands that are homeless in our county, it’s certainly a start.

“City Net and its subcontractors will help homeless people find permanent and transitional housing using existing federal rental assistance grants,” the Register noted.

That is a positive step forward. Too often, the only solution seems to be a government solution content with statistics highlighting services provided, rather than outcomes. The goal should always be to help people bounce back and lead a life of self-sufficiency. The private sector has long proven itself better at matching resources to needs than central planners, so it should be included as much as possible. Bringing stakeholders together is something City Net seems to specialize in.

But many homeless people will remain in the riverbed encampment beyond the end of the year. For them, as long-term solutions continue to ramp up, short-term solutions are needed, particularly when it comes to sanitation.

A nonprofit attempted to provide portable toilets, but they were removed. Supervisors said they would include them in their proposal. Yet, the contract with City Net doesn’t contain any specific language. According to the Register, the county says “that hydration stations and mobile showers would be made available,” but that a restroom “continues to be evaluated.”

While skeptics are right to have concerns over becoming too accommodating, the reality is plain to see. It is a public health issue, not just for the homeless who live there, but also for those who traverse the…

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