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Santa Ana Approves New Plan To Battle Homelessness

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – The City Council in Santa Ana, which has one of Orange County's largest concentrations of homeless people, has unanimously approved a homeless prevention, intervention and mitigation plan and created a city homeless services manager position, it was reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the City Council declared the homeless issue around the Santa Ana Civic Center a public health and safety crisis. Many called it just a temporary fix that will accommodate only a fraction of the nearly 500 homeless camped out in front of the Santa Ana library, court and City Hall.

Last week, the Anaheim City Council declared a public health and safety state of emergency around the expanding homeless population and announced plans to move them out of the Santa Ana River Trail, where they have settled.

"As they (Anaheim) do that, and other cities take that action, the city of Santa Ana will likely become more of a magnet for folks that are being moved, displaced from those areas," Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides told the Orange County Register.

Council members directed staff to improve internal coordination between city agencies providing services and enforcement to the homeless population and enhance coordination with the county, neighboring cities, homeless service providers and faith-based organizations, the Register reported.

The city also wants to develop a legislative package to solicit federal and state assistance for housing, enforcement and social services needs of the homeless.

"I've never seen the homeless problem this bad," Mayor Miguel Pulido said in remarks reported by the Register. "They're sneaking into people's backyards and spending the night there. In the morning, sometimes they don't leave. It's just way, way, way out of control."

The council amended its fiscal year 2017-18 budget to add the full-time homeless services manager position at a monthly salary ranging from $9,237 to $11,231.

"This has grown to become such a concern that we need one person that is wholly dedicated to helping coordinate city resources and addressing this concern," Benavides said, according to the Register.

Homeless advocates say Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment measures, allowing tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders to be released onto the streets, has been a big contributor to the epidemic.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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