Orange County’s decision to remove hundreds of homeless people from encampments along the Santa Ana River has turned into a legal showdown over how the affluent region treats some of its most needy citizens, a battle being watched by other areas struggling with growing transient populations.
U.S. District Judge David Carter on Tuesday demanded that Orange County officials, cities and homeless advocates collaborate to find shelter for hundreds of people who have been living in the camps, saying he would survey the area for himself on Wednesday.
Carter last week granted a temporary restraining order barring Orange County sheriff’s deputies from arresting homeless people who refuse to leave, stalling what has been an aggressive effort to clear out the encampments that stretch from Fountain Valley to Anaheim.
That order will stand until public officials can identify an alternative place to house those living along the river trail. The goal, the judge said, is to create a temporary answer that can eventually be fashioned into a long-term housing solution.
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