Law­suit seeks to stop big home­less camp shut­down

Ripon Bulletin - - Local / State -

SANTA ANA (AP) — A re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tion that serves the poor in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia filed a law­suit Mon­day to try to stop lo­cal gov­ern­ments from forc­ing home­less peo­ple out of a big en­camp­ment along a riverbed trail.

The law­suit filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court by the Or­ange County Catholic Worker group an d seven home­less peo­ple claims a broad range of vi­o­la­tions of con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions by the gov­ern­ments of Or­ange County and the cities of Ana­heim, Costa Mesa and Or­ange.

The fil­ing came a week af­ter sher­iff’s deputies went tent to tent telling peo­ple the en­camp­ment was be­ing closed down.

The law­suit al­leges the de­fen­dants forced home­less peo­ple from those ju­ris­dic­tions into an area along the Santa Ana River and that the county is now try­ing to force those peo­ple back into sur­round­ing ar­eas with­out a plan for shel­ter or hous­ing.

“The fail­ure, if not the out­right re­fusal of Or­ange County and its cities to adopt pos­i­tive mea­sures to ad­dress the hous­ing cri­sis and the will­ing­ness to crim­i­nal­ize the mere act of ex­ist­ing in pub­lic spa­ces takes a toll on the County’s most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple,” the law­suit said.

It added that “the County and its cities have in­vested in en­force­ment in­stead of hous­ing, blam­ing other en­ti­ties for the prob­lem, and leav­ing un­housed peo­ple nowhere to turn, nowhere to live, and nowhere to sleep.”

In a state­ment, Or­ange County Coun­sel Leon Page said there would be no com­ment on the mer­its of the lit­i­ga­tion, but “we look for­ward to dis­cussing pos­i­tive so­lu­tions that will ben­e­fit all stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the pop­u­la­tion en­camped in the Santa Ana Riverbed.”

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