Orange County Responds to Homelessness Pt. 1: Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem, Jose F. Moreno

Author: Joe Brizzolara / March 22, 2018

Anaheim Homeless Encampment Eviction

A homeless encampment near Angel Stadium. Photo: Chris Rusanowsky / The Sprawl

On January 22nd, Orange County officials started the eviction of a homeless encampment on the Santa Ana Riverbed. Seven days later, homeless advocates sued the County claiming the order violated the civil rights of the homeless living in the riverbed. They had no other viable housing option, advocates argued, and would be criminalized by nearby cities’ anti-camping laws. Federal District Judge David Carter responded to the lawsuit by temporarily stopping evictions of those living in the riverbed. Carter walked several miles down the encampment to get a closer look at living conditions. The judge demanded that Orange County officials find a housing solution. A deal was brokered. The county would provide 30-day motel and meals vouchers to the homeless and the riverbed would be vacated. On February 20th, 244 homeless men and women traded their camps for vouchers.

The Sprawl got a chance to speak with Dr. Jose Moreno, Mayor Pro Tem of Anaheim. Dr. Moreno is Chair of the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach. In April of last year, Moreno requested the creation of the homeless working group.

The group was comprised of city and county officials as well as homeless advocates and non-profit service providers. Its purpose was to review the city’s policies regarding homeless and to develop framework for tackling homelessness that was both efficient and compassion to those affected. The homeless working group proposed a set of recommendations and guiding principles for dealing with homelessness which the city council ultimately approved on January 30th.

Dr. Moreno was elected to the Anaheim City Council in November 2016, the first city election done by district. Moreno was one of the plaintiffs in an ACLU suit brought against the city which successfully argued that at-large elections disenfranchised Latino voters. Up until this point, much of city’s representation was concentrated in the affluent Anaheim Hills. Along with Denise Barnes, Moreno’s victory shifted the power balance of the council creating a majority headed by Mayor Tom Tait. They represent a new opposition to generous tax subsidies offered to Anaheim’s resort industry, which includes Disneyland. Dr. Moreno is the Councilmember for District 3, which has a heavy Latino majority. In January, he was elected Mayor Pro Tem by the Council.

Dr. Moreno discusses the riverbed, obstacles to a housing-first model, and funding possibilities for low-income housing.  

 

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