Homelessness Information and Resources

Helpful Resources

  • In Orange, the Homeless Neighbor Hotline offers resources for those experiencing homelessness.  Call (714) 280-4227.
  • Orange County's services available to assist homeless persons, click here.
  • Orange County's behavioral and mental health programs, click here.
  • 211OC, a resource for health and human service programs, including shelters, click here.
  • Food Pantries in Orange County by Waste Not OC, click here.
  • Orange County's Office of Care Coordination, click here.
  • Orange County Shelter Programs, click here.
  • To download a copy of the Pocket Guide Resource Directory, click here.
  • For a copy of the Office of Care Coordination Newsletter, click here.

Orange and North Orange County Cities Join Forces to Find Solutions to Homelessness

The effects of chronic homelessness have been felt by every city in Orange County.  In order to help address the issue, and find ways to address the underlying problems that lead to homelessness, Orange has joined with the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Villa Park, Stanton, and Yorba Linda in an unprecedented partnership called the North Service Planning Area (SPA). The North SPA Partnership is a joint collaboration that includes two full-service Navigation Centers to provide help to the region’s homeless. The Buena Park Center and the Placentia Center will provide homeless individuals a total of 250 beds, health resources, job skill training, and the ability to reconnect with lost family.  These facilities join the two shelters already built by the City of Anaheim, which house another 326 beds.

In early 2018, in response to public outcry, the County of Orange evicted the homeless living along the Santa Ana River Trail. When the original plans for the evictions became public, the County and several cities were sued, alleging that local anti-camping ordinances were a violation of the constitutional rights of the homeless.  At nearly the same time, the United States Court of Appeals, in an unrelated suit, ruled that anti-camping ordinances may not be enforced on Public property when there are no local shelter beds available. 

The North SPA partnership was formed as part of an agreement to settle this suit and avoid further costly litigation.

While each of the North SPA Cities contribute funding toward, a majority of the funds come from non-general fund sources.  In late 2018, the State of California awarded the North SPA $12 million dollars in Homeless Emergency Aid Program funding, and the County of Orange has committed both $6.5 million dollars for the construction of shelters, and $1.5 million dollars annually for operations.

In addition to our participation in the North SPA, Orange has undertaken several other initiatives over the past few years to address our local homelessness issue.  We partnered with HomeAid of Orange County to develop the Orange Family Care Center, which specializes in serving the needs of families who have found themselves homeless. 

The Orange Police Department’s Homeless Engagement, Assistance & Resource Team (HEART) program has been operating since 2013.  HEART Officers engage daily with our local homeless individuals, working with them one-on-one to help facilitate their re-entry back into mainstream society.

Mary’s Kitchen, which is located on City provided land, has just had their agreement renewed for another five years.  Around 200 homeless and less fortunate individuals are served each day at Mary’s Kitchen.  

Increasing the availability of affordable housing is also an important key to solving the homelessness crisis. Here in Orange, we also have a long history of encouraging the development of affordable housing projects. In Orange, we have one of the highest number of such units anywhere in the County.  

The problem of homelessness in our City and County is one that has been growing for a long time.  This is not a problem that will go away in a day, or be solved in a few months.  One of the first steps will be learn how we can best mitigate the impacts our local homeless population has on our City’s residents and businesses.   Transitioning our homeless population out of that lifestyle will be an easier adjustment when there is a mutual agreement to co-exist.  

The goal of a homeless future is one we can all agree on.  Together with our County and City partners, we are working to find both short-term and long-term solutions for a future where those without homes may find help and hope. 

County’s First Mental Health and Wellness Campus Breaks Ground In Orange

In the first of its kind facility in Orange County, those suffering from mental health issues will soon have a place to turn for comprehensive care and support. As part of a transformative initiative spearheaded by a public-private partnership between the County of Orange, regional governmental agencies, private health care groups, academic organizations, non-profits, faith based organizations, construction will soon start on the first of three Orange County mental health and wellness campuses.

The Be Well Orange County Orange Campus broke ground in Orange on Anita St. on October 16. Orange Mayor Mark A. Murphy, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Alvarez, and Council Member Chip Monaco took part in the “first shovel” ceremony marking the official start of construction for the Be Well OC Orange Campus. As one of the regional partners, , Orange is proud to have been selected as the site for the first Campus, and to play a part in this important community effort to address mental health.

When completed, the 60,000 square Be Well OC Orange Campus will provide common core mental health and substance abuse services, as well as tailored services to the unique needs of the region. This ecosystem of services has never before been so systematically available to Orange County residents.

For more information, visit the Be Well OC website at https://bewelloc.org.

Older Updates

At a special meeting to address the issue of Homelessness in the City on September 26, the Orange City Council received a comprehensive report from the Orange Police Chief Tom Kisela and City Manager Rick Otto on the subject. To read the report and powerpoint, click here. To watch the meeting in its entirety, click here. After the reports, and comments during the Public Hearing, the Council then directed the following actions:
  • Authorized the addition of two new Police Officer positions dedicated specifically to address calls for service related to homelessness issues.  These two positions will be in addition to the two existing HEART Team positions.
  • Increased the presence of the private security patrols in Orange.  The City currently has a contract in place with a private security firm to patrol our City Parks and Public Library facilities.
  • Directed the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance for consideration by the City Council prohibiting Aggressive Solicitation in the City of Orange.
  • Created three new City Council ad hoc committees to address specific aspects of the homelessness issues.  
  • A committee to work with surrounding cities on finding shared solutions and to address the homelessness issue holistically.
  • A Committee to advocate for the City on the homelessness issue on both the County and State levels, including the financial impact on our community and the City’s resources.
  • A committee to interface with our community, exchange information and ideas, and allow for our residents to provide direct feedback to the City government.


Orange County has seen an unprecedented marked increase in the number of homeless persons using public spaces and right-of-way for camping or long-term habitation over the past several years. Orange and other cities along the Santa Ana Riverbed have felt the impact of this increase in several ways.  Areas within our City, such as our parks and creek beds, are attractive locations for homeless persons to gather. Those who have made camp on County controlled property, like the banks of Santa Ana River, come into Orange looking for supplies, food, or handouts. 

Quick facts

It is not illegal to be homeless, but neither does being homeless mean you are exempt from obeying the law.

We are obligated to follow the State and Federal laws that clearly define the limits of what we are, and are not, able to do when addressing the impacts of homelessness.  The largest visible concentration of homeless persons is currently found along the banks of the Santa Ana River.  This area is not in the City of Orange and is out of the jurisdiction of the Orange Police Department. Responsibility for the riverbed belongs to the County of Orange and related agencies and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Orange Outreach

Orange has been meeting the challenge of reducing our homeless population with the resources we have available. Our ongoing priority has been on the safety and to provide access to help for those who are open to receiving assistance. Working diligently with our local non-profit organizations, our Orange Police Department’s Homeless, Engagement, Assistance, & Resource Team (HEART) has been working with the local homeless population since 2013, and has identified some of the primary reasons that someone may find themselves homeless and living a transient lifestyle. They include:
  1. Those who are homeless due to circumstances beyond their control, and seek a return to self-sufficiency. 
  2. Those suffering from mental impairment, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions that inhibit reasoning skills.
  3. Those who choose to be transient, refuse help, and choose to live outdoors, while observing the law.
  4. Those who refuse help, make a conscious choice to be homeless, and may be engaging in illegal activity such as theft, public intoxication, trespassing, aggressive panhandling, and vandalism.
Our HEART Officers have helped several people find a successful path back from the homeless life. To learn more about HEART, click here.

Orange Safety

It is important to note that as we discuss the City’s response to homelessness in Orange that we separate the discussion of our response within the City boundaries and our response within the Santa Ana River area (“River”). This is an important distinction as the City has significantly more control and ability to address issues with homelessness in our City parks, trails, public spaces, neighborhoods, and business districts. As such, the City has had good success in preventing camping and criminal activity in our parks and public spaces. Specific to general enforcement, there are two Orange Municipal Code (OMC) sections that address camping restrictions: 12.48.045 which prohibits camping in City parks and 12.66.030 which prohibits camping and obstructing public rights-of-way including sidewalks and other public spaces. In addition, OMC section 12.48.090 prohibits individuals from being in City parks after posted operating hours.

Conversely, as the Santa Ana River area is in the jurisdiction of the County of Orange and related agencies, our efforts has been hindered. While portions of the River are within the boundaries of the City of Orange, the River is owned and operated by the county. As such, the County is the primary jurisdictional authority for the River. While the County does have compatible park hours and right-of-way obstruction statutes, they have not been enforced by the Orange County Sheriff Department.

Recently, at the direction of the County of Orange Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff's Department has begun active patrols along the River. To support the Sheriff’s Department, Orange Police Department will be dedicating one police officer per week. This will be in addition to the HEART Team engagement. Specifically, Orange Police Department personnel will be working alongside Anaheim and Sheriff personnel as part of a multi-jurisdictional task force. In doing so, Orange Police Department will be continuing their strategy of compassionate but firm enforcement.

Contact Information

Who to contact if you need to report an incident with a homeless person
  • For crimes in progress, always call 911.
  • Within the City of Orange, contact the Orange Police Department at (714) 744-7444.
  • To report something outside the City of Orange's jurisdiction, such as on the Santa Ana River property, contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 288-6742.

Helpful Resources

  • In Orange, the Homeless Neighbor Hotline offers resources.  Call (714) 280-4227.
  • Orange County's services available to assist homeless persons, click here.
  • Orange County's behavioral and mental health programs, click here.
  • 211OC, a resource for health and human service programs, including shelters, click here.
  • Food Pantries in Orange County by Waste Not OC, click here.
  • Orange County's Office of Care Coordination, click here.
  • Orange County Shelter Programs, click here.
  • To download a copy of the Pocket Guide Resource Directory, click here.
  • For a copy of the Office of Care Coordination Newsletter, click here.