Empowered By Orange County United Way

Myth #8: Homelessness Can Be Solved If We Relocate Everyone Out of Orange County

Authored by David Gillanders, Executive Director, Pathways of Hope

Across the nation, many communities have made significant strides in ending homelessness. Utah reduced their homelessness by 91 percent in over a decade, Central Florida reduced homelessness in their community by 50 percent in three years, and Houston has reduced their homelessness by 75 percent since 2011.

All of these communities made these huge strides by shifting from isolated acts of charity to developing a system that was designed to end people’s homelessness. Each of these communities recognized the need to address this issue within their own neighborhoods, and understood that they wouldn’t be able to effectively address the problem without a solution that was located in their own backyards.

In fact, it is a national best practice to create these localized housing solutions. Communities across the country have discovered that it is cheaper and more effective for them to invest in housing solutions than other efforts that are focused on relocation. On average, housing first solutions reduced chronic homelessness by 30 percent, and reduced costs by about 50 percent.

The same was found to be true for Orange County as well, with the UCI Cost Study discovering that we could save $42 million dollars if we utilized housing first solutions.

In Orange County, 72 percent of our homeless worked or are currently working here. For those individuals, relocation would mean a longer commute or even giving up their job. Over half of our homeless community have family in Orange County and attended (or are attending) school in Orange County- for these individuals, relocation would mean giving up their friends, their family, and their support systems. These components connect individuals to their community which helps them thrive when they are put into housing. To cut people off from these essential resources would negatively impact their ability to stabilize and benefit from other resources.

It was Coretta Scott King who said “the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members”. It’s critical for us to recognize that Orange County needs our own housing solutions. It’s not only cheaper and more effective for our community to do this, but it also means that the people who have roots here are able to grow, live, and thrive here in Orange County.