Orange County officials are moving transients out of the National Guard armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana into two cold-weather emergency shelters in both cities.
The National Guard needs to use the armories, and county officials want to make sure there is overnight shelter for transients during the coronavirus emergency.
One shelter will be at the Salvation Army site at 2603 W. First St. in Santa Ana and the other is in the Independence Park Gymnasium, 801 W. Valencia Drive in Fullerton.
Workers were “laying floor in Santa Ana till 10 p.m. last night,” Orange County Health Care Agency Director Richard Sanchez told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
“We have to do an assessment of all the people in the shelter to see if they have symptoms” consistent with COVID-19, Sanchez said. “If they do we’re going to have to isolate that population, and we’re actively looking for sites.”
“The next group of vulnerable population are people over 65 and those with chronic conditions,” Sanchez said.
For those groups, county officials are working hard to fix up the Joplin Youth Center in Trabuco Canyon, which was until recently a juvenile hall facility.
County officials are also considering large tent structures if necessary.
“We are triaging with the most vulnerable populations first,” Sanchez said.
The capacity at the armories was 300, but the facilities have not averaged that many transients overnight, Sanchez said.
“If the population stays consistent… there’s room at the new sites,” Sanchez said.
The county may have to make use of motel rooms as well. The county had to pay more than $2 million in damages to motels when housing transients on an emergency basis while clearing out homeless encampments, so Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett encouraged staff to consider whether it would be less expensive to just buy a motel building for future use.
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