After Anaheim declares state of emergency, Santa Ana River homeless wonder what’s next – Orange County Register

Heather Smith-Bush isn’t sure what to make of rumors she has heard about how the city of Anaheim plans to move hundreds of homeless people like her out of the tents and makeshift shelters where they live along the Santa Ana River Trail.

What Smith-Bush does know is this: If somebody is willing to help her get into housing — and out of the tent she lives in across a chain link fence from Angel Stadium — she’s all for it. So long as she can bring Shera, her pit bull companion.

“Housing would be great,” the 42-year-old woman said Wednesday afternoon. “I would grab my dog, my purse and be gone.”

Hours earlier, after a marathon meeting, the Anaheim City Council had declared a public health and safety state of emergency in light of the city’s growing homeless crisis, with the council’s particular concern focused on the encampments that stretch for miles along the river bank near Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center.

Anaheim’s homeless population is around 900 people, nearly a fifth of Orange County’s total homeless count of about 4,700. Nearly half of the city’s homeless population has settled in at the river bed – based on a nonprofit’s recent count of 422 people living in the encampments clustered between Chapman Avenue and Ball Road.

The city has dubbed the bold step it took Wednesday “Operation Home Safe” after a proposal initiated by Councilwoman Kris Murray to solve the polarizing issue that has pitted frustrated and angry residents and business owners against homeless people and their advocates.

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