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Santa Ana Takes Steps To Deal With Homeless Crisis

SANTA ANA ( — The homeless population expansion around the Santa Ana Civic Center is suddenly so severe it is forcing the city to take action.

The Santa Ana City Council voted Tuesday night to declare it a public health and safety crisis. In a 5-1 vote, a resolution will put pressure on the county to open a service center for the homeless and increase police and code enforcement officers in the area.

Many call it 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. Violent crime, drug use and disease are rampant. Many are afraid to walk to work or into court.

"You could arrest all these homeless people but you know what's going to happen if you do that? The jail costs are gonna go out of sight," a concerned citizen at the meeting said.

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.

Small business owners have begged the council for help.

"It's hard enough to run a business as it is, let alone have homeless walking by asking for cigarettes, grabbing food off patio tables," a business owner said.

In a separate vote, the board of supervisors voted to convert the bus terminal near the Civic Center to temporary shelter until it finds a permanent one.

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