The City of Santa Ana is opposing a contact with Mental Health Association of Orange County to provide homeless services at 2416 S. Main St., which is in a light industrial area that is about a block east of a residential neighborhood.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider a contract with the Mental Health Association of Orange County at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2023.
The City of Santa Ana is is opposing approval of this contract due to alleged negative public health and safety impacts this operation has had on residents and businesses. The City’s Homeless Services staff believe these funds could be better spent on transportation to shelters, funding for rehabilitation beds and other vital services.
The City of Santa Ana operates a 200-bed shelter, funds a homeless outreach team, and allegedly leads Orange County in the development of permanent supportive housing for formerly unhoused individuals as well as affordable housing. The County of Orange additionally operates another homeless shelter in Santa Ana.
To us it seems odd to oppose an Orange County facility that is focused on helping the many mentally ill homeless people that live in Santa Ana. Is it really better to have these people loitering in our parks, sleeping on our sidewalks and committing crimes in our neighborhoods?
The O.C. Board of Supervisors meets at 400 W. Civic Center Drive, Santa Ana (Board Hearing Room, First Floor. Former Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento represents Santa Ana on the O.C. Board of Supervisors.
About the Mental Health Association of Orange County
MHA is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt Orange County, CA based social services organization. All of their programs serve adults with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders. They serve over 13,000 Orange County residents each year with a budget of approximately $10 million. Thevolunteer board of directors is comprised currently of 11 members of the community. MHA’s staff numbers approximately 120 and includes masters and bachelors level staff, non-degreed staff who have significant life experiences, and direct consumers of their programs. Currently, one third of their staff are consumers of mental health services. MHA also contracts with psychiatrists and nurse practitioners in several of their programs.
Mental Health Association of Orange County Success Stories
Juan and Patty’s Story
Patty is a woman who had been living with untreated mental illness on the streets for many years. After initially meeting Patty in the homeless community at the Santa Ana Civic Center, MHA outreach worker, Juan Lopez attempted to persuade her to come to MHA’s multi-service center for help with no success. Juan continued to see her at various shelters and explain the benefits of treatment. It wasn’t until numerous subsequent attempts by Juan over a number of periods that Patty agreed to get help. Juan became her advocate, driving her to her medical appointments and care coordination meetings, as well as helping her secure housing. Today, Patty volunteers at the MHA’s Multi-Service Center, helping those who are on their own path to recovery.
JT is a 59 year old woman with a dual diagnosis, which includes severe depression. JT first came to MHA’s Homeless Drop-In Center in 2007, where her counselor found her housing at the American Family Housing’s Haven Shelter. After 2 years, due to loss of income, she ended back on the streets, but continued to get the support she needed from MHA. JT began to take business and art classes at a local community college and enrolled in Goodwill’s Back to Work program with the help and encouragement of MHA staff. She was selected by students at Chapman College’s film program to be the subject of a documentary focused on educating others about homelessness. The Housing Specialist at the MHA Multi-Service Center helped JT secure housing assistance from the Orange County Housing Authority and the Anaheim Housing Authority, which allowed her to finally have an affordable apartment. JT moved into her new apartment and is happy that her daughter and grandchildren are able to visit her in a home. She feels grateful to MHA and plans to begin volunteering at the Multi-Service Center facilitating an art group for the members.
I was homeless for a month in November, 2012. I was in Orange County. I contacted the MHA outreach facility in Santa Ana off of Warner and Main. They helped with two hot meals a day and a shower. Christina, the housing specialist, located me housing and placed me there within two weeks. I then had money to pay rent. I am now volunteering at the SSI outreach in Santa Ana. I am happy to give back to an organization that helped me. It is also nice to know that MHA is there as a resource to help people get back on their feet again.
Minnie came to MHA’s Homeless program after struggling with hearing voices and paranoia that eventually caused her to become homeless. The program provided her with shelter, benefits and taught her about her mental illness and how to manage the symptoms. Minnie began to attend a support group at MHA that helped her connect with other people like her with schizophrenia and panic disorder. She began helping out at the MHA office by answering phones and managing mail as part of her therapy, which allowed her to overcome previously held fears. Soon thereafter, MHA helped unite Minnie with her family, whom she talked to and educated on her mental illness. As a result, she and her mom began to volunteer with MHA to give back.