Orange County to clear out riverbed homeless encampment, provide 400 motel vouchers for displaced people, under proposed agreement

Orange County officials plan to clear out the Santa Ana River homeless encampment next week and supply as many as 400 motel vouchers to displaced inhabitants under a tentative agreement reached Tuesday, Feb. 13, in a federal lawsuit that had challenged recent efforts to evict people from the populous tent city.

The deal was hammered out during an unorthodox daylong hearing in which U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter wielded his judicial powers to entice officials from the county and local cities to negotiate with attorneys for seven homeless people who alleged their civil rights were being violated during the eviction efforts. Carter’s federal courtroom was packed with scores of onlookers, including dozens of public officials and homeless advocates, with the large crowd spilling over into two overflow rooms.

Under the proposed agreement, the county will begin clearing out the encampments on Feb. 20, dismantling them section by section over a course of three to six days. Notices will be posted Wednesday, warning inhabitants of the planned action. People who accept vouchers will be allowed to stay in motels for 30 days.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do told the court that the county also will commit to adding 32 beds for homeless people at the county’s Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter and another 60 beds on the facility’s parking lot in the near future; 100 beds at the WISEPlace shelter for women in Santa Ana; 100 beds or tents at a facility in Orange; and 120 beds or tents on land the county owns near the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Some of the people given vouchers, and temporarily housed in motels, could later move to the more permanent living facilities.

Attorneys on both sides were expected to remain in Carter’s courtroom late into the night drafting up a formal written document to seal the agreement. Carter was expected to continue the hearing Wednesday, with both sides present.

Tuesday’s tentative deal followed a hearing…

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