ConnectOC Blog

Shine a light on homeless

Posted by: Shelley Hoss on 4/1/2013

By Shelley Hoss
Published in the Orange County Register on April 1, 2013

Orange County’s surprising problem often hides in the shadows.

When you think of the homeless in the United States, what – and who – comes to mind? Transient men in inner cities? The chronically addicted? The mentally ill? Would it surprise you to know that, in 2011, 1.6 million homeless Americans were children, or that Orange County puts up some of the highest numbers of homelessness in the nation?

One startling fact is this: Orange County has more homeless, and children living on the edge of homelessness, per capita than either Los Angeles or San Diego counties, according to the California Department of Education (December 2011). And families with children make up 70 percent of Orange County’s homeless population.

Although this heartbreaking reality remains largely hidden from view, these children and families are here, living in the shadow of some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country—in decrepit motels, parked cars, or dangerously exposed in public spaces.

According to a 2011 report in USA Today, the worst states for homeless children were those hardest hit by foreclosures and unemployment, as well as states with the greatest income disparity—like California. And Orange County (tied with Riverside/San Bernardino counties) has the highest percentage of unstably housed children in the state.

“We often don’t think of Orange County as an area rife with homelessness because we don’t see them as readily,” says Kim Goll, director of program operations at Children and Families Commission Orange County. “And one of the primary contributors is the high cost of living.”

An undeniable illustration of this, as cited in “Our Orange County,” a report on social issues commissioned by the Orange County Community Foundation, is that a person earning minimum wage must work 133 hours per week – the equivalent of more than three full-time jobs – to afford the rent on an average one-bedroom apartment in Orange County. Half of all adults living beneath the poverty line in Orange County are employed.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of families who are one paycheck away from homelessness in Orange County,” Goll said. “The loss of stable wages during the recession put low-income families in an increasingly perilous position and, from there, it can be a devastating slide. Getting work is of course much more difficult if you don’t have a permanent address and children can end up moving from school to school, if enrolled at all.”

One of the key strategies being implemented to stop this slide is “rapid re-housing,” or quickly getting families into permanent shelter to prevent them from falling further behind. Two Orange County organizations at the forefront of this movement are Illumination Foundation and Mercy House

Illumination Foundation, based in Irvine, has an innovative outreach program that helps families receive stable housing, medical services, mental health counseling, case management and life essentials such as food and clothing. It also helps with the transitional issues such as employment assistance.

Santa Ana’s Mercy House offers similar assistance, including a “continuum of care” that helps individuals and families at every stage of homelessness, from prevention to emergency housing to permanent housing.

Larry Haynes, Executive Director of Mercy House, says solving the issue of homelessness “will take time,” but “long-term and consistent support allows nonprofits to be both creative and more efficient.”

For more information visit ConnectOC.org.

Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation.

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Very nice post and Thanks for sharing.
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I can’t even think about the situation which you have mentioned here. How can we live homeless? Have you ever think about it? I think the blogs like this will be helpful to all of us to realize this fact.
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It is really shocking to hear that a large number of children are remaining homeless even in the present conditions. We have to assure their safety and take this issue into serious consideration. It is our duty to pay attention on them.
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I have read your post and came to know about Orange County and the people who are living there. I think their activities are an inspiration to all of us to help those who are in need. Keep updating more information regarding their social service.
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I have heard a lot about Orange County. I think the people in Orange County is a model to everyone of us. They really deserves a great appreciation for their social activities. We have to follow these and develop a mind to help others.
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Millions of Americans are suffer because of the lack of proper shelter. It’s good to know that California Department of Education takes initiative to help homeless people. The steps you have taken for this purpose is really impressive. Wish you all success.
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Helping the poor and the need especially those who are homeless is a great act taken by the individual. Thank you Shelly Hoss who introduced Orange County that helps in treating the homeless and mentally retarded people in their country. This is a very good inspirational act and I want all to look into this seriously.
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I have read your post and came to know about Orange County. Very happy to hear that they are treating homeless and mentally retarded people. It think this is a good service which really deserves appreciation. Keep updating more news related to this.
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I think the initiative you have taken for helping the homeless people is a good one. As we all know, there are a lot of people in town who are living without a home of their own. These are really inspirational for any organizations to do such things for the public.
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I congratulate Shelly Hoss for this wonderful post. From your post I knew about Orange County and how they treat homeless and mentally retarded people in their country. These kinds of activities are really an inspiration for all of us. Keep up the good work.
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I congratulate Shelly Hoss for this wonderful post. From your post I knew about Orange County and how they treat homeless and mentally retarded people in their country. These kinds of activities are really an inspiration for all of us. Keep up the good work. <a href="https://www.nuggbeauty.com/collections/face-masks">best face mask</a>
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Shelley Hoss, i really like your blog posts and i am a regular reader of your blogs, i will encourage you to keep writing.
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First of all, I would like to appreciate you for helping mentally retarded people and people who have no home. I think this is a good charity service. Keep doing such kind of activities. This post would be an inspiration to all to do these types of charity services.
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We often don’t think of Orange County as an area rife with homelessness because we don’t see them as readily.
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There are many people in our country who are homeless. Many of them will be mentally ill. It is very good to help those people. I am very glad to know that you are working to help such people. You are doing a very good job.
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It’s quite shocking to hear that Orange County is having more people and children on the edge of homelessness, per capita than either Los Angeles or San Diego counties. Although no media or organizations are covering this news and people are unaware of this.
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