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By Andrea Papagianis

Orange County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday, July 15 to purchase a Santa Ana industrial site to house a year-round emergency shelter—filling a void for homeless services and helping the county move forward with its 10-year plan to end homelessness.

In 2013, there were approximately 4,300 homeless people living in Orange County, with an estimated 12,300 people experiencing homelessness at some time throughout the year, according to a staff report.

Currently, the county operates an overnight seasonal emergency shelter program with 400 beds during the coldest months, but relies on a patchwork of nonprofits to provide year-round services. Locally, organizations such as Family Assistance Ministries, Welcome Inn, iHope and Friendship Shelter provide critical services like meals, short-term shelter, counseling, clothing and showers.

Last year, the Santa Ana City Council approved zoning for a 200-bed shelter, which under California Senate Bill 2, could be built by right.

The $3.6 million purchase, for a 23,000-square-foot building located at 1217 E. Normandy Place, now enters a 90-day escrow period where structural, sewer line, roof, safety and hazardous materials inspections will be conducted before the sale is complete.

The county will then seek contractor bids to run the shelter.

An estimated $2.3 million will be spent on renovations. Costs estimated with running the shelter are $2.6 million, according to a staff report. Funding would come from a mix of county, state and federal sources.

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