A year-long investigation found three of Orange County’s emergency homeless shelters riddled with problems including reports of physical and sexual abuse, neglect of residents with disabilities and mental illnesses, and filthy conditions, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The report is based on first-person visits and more than 70 interviews with residents, staff members and shelter volunteers at three emergency shelters: the Courtyard Transitional Center in Santa Ana, opened in October 2016; Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim that opened in May 2017; and SAFEPlace in Santa Ana, which opened last April.
They say they found dangerously unclean conditions in each of the shelters; reports of physical, verbal and sexual abuse; discrimination and disregard for the needs of older homeless residents and those with disabilities and mental illnesses; facilities that lacked temperature control and in some cases, flooded during rainstorms; and reports of staff threatening residents with eviction for minor infractions, or if they spoke out about conditions at the shelter.
“People who have been to jail have said jail is better than this shelter,” one homeless resident, Roberta Filicko, wrote in her diary, according to the ACLU report. “We are so scared that we will be living on the streets, and the staff make sure remind you of this every minute of every day. It’s true we have no one to help us, so we go along with it.”
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