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Controversial homeless services center receives new contract

Orange County renews contract for controversial homeless service center
Orange County renews contract for controversial homeless service center 02:18

Orange County's Board of Supervisors renewed the contract of a homeless services center in Santa Ana, much to the dismay of some residents.

"I'm just tired, tired of the ugliness that my grandkids have to see," resident Martha Alarcon said. 

Alarcon lives near the Mental Health Association's service center on South Main Street, a one-of-its-kind facility that offers a myriad of services such as showers, laundry and ways to connect unhoused to housing as well as jobs. 

She and nearby resident David Ball, wanted the county to cut its funding for the facility.

"Our children deserve to grow up in an area that doesn't have needles on the ground," Ball said. "They deserve to walk on clean sidewalks without feces and not to have to scan the area for transients before playing in the park."

Dozens of other residents joined Ball and Alarcon to convey their frustration with the center during Tuesday's board meeting. They hoped that their pleas would convince supervisors to get rid of the facility. 

"I completely understand the desire and the need, but unfortunately that placement and that location," Supervisor Vince Sarmiento said. "We really don't know whether it's become a magnet to draw people there or whether that population already existed. That's really the challenge for us to understand."

Santa Ana city councilmembers said they've served their homeless population for a long time and hope that other cities will step in to build more facilities. 

"You have indecent exposure, you have kids going to elementary and junior high schools that are seeing folks acting erratic and dangerously," Councilmember Phil Bacerra said. "That's not something that children in other parts of our county face every day."

While the board renewed the center's contract by a narrow margin of 3-2, if the facility is not relocated within a year the contract will be terminated. 

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