For Santa Ana homeless, help is on the way

- It’s estimated that around 500 people are calling the area near Santa Ana City Hall, the library and the courthouse home because they’re homeless.

People like Jess Nevarez. We met him playing crossword puzzles. He says he can’t live around other people, so he’d rather be on the streets.

Larry Smith, 61, is also homeless. He's known as "Smitty."

He’s glad the Santa Ana City Council has approved the hiring of an agency called CITY NET to help move people from down-and-out to where they can get help because it will "bring a whole lot of resources other than just food."

While there is a concerted effort to help the homeless, there are people who have business to do in the area that aren’t comfortable walking amongst the homeless dwellers.

Some people privately told us that trying to get through the encampment to pay a bill scares them.

But Santa Ana resident Don Ho takes a different view.

"I don’t have any fear walking through here," he said. I think these are people just like anybody else."

"It didn’t scare me but it just makes me sad," added his 10-year-old daughter Kaylie.

Same goes for City Councilman David Benavides, who supports spending $90,000 of the city on the year-long contract to move 30 people per quarter.

That amounts to helping 120 people a year.

The city, however, could have taken stronger action. Camping there is against the law. When asked whether the city would enforce the law and move people out Benavides said,  "we could."

"It is, though, one of those things where we’d have to weigh-out the compassionate response. We have to be mindful of the fact people are not here by choice," he added, which is what Brad Fieldhouse and his CITY NET will do under the contract. 

For some, the fear factor still remains.

To those who aren't comfortable with the influx of hundreds of homeless, Fieldhouse says people should be cautious.

"But, by and large, these people are completely safe. This is where they live. This is their home. They take care of this."

The CITY NET proposal has been approved by the Santa Ana City Council, but the Orange County Board of Supervisors have to do the same before the program can go into effect.

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