Local News

Newly-Released Report Reveals Increase in Homeless Population in North Orange County

A recently-released 2018 census of the homeless population in North Orange County reveals a startling 1,837 people, with 80% of them (1,474 people) unsheltered—a higher unsheltered percentage than Los Angeles County. This represents a 60 percent increase since the last count done in 2017.

Representatives of CityNet, who organized the census, doing weekly homeless outreach at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

The Census was organized by local nonprofit CityNet and funded by the North Orange County Public Safety Task force, a taxpayer-funded group created by the state legislature in 2017.

Although the 2018 census was made possible by public funds, its results were not released to the public until journalists at KPCC got the report through a public records request.

The cities included in the census were Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Orange, Placentia, Stanton, Villa Park and Yorba Linda.

The fact that the census was not released to the public (who paid for it) raises questions, especially as the county of Orange is currently involved in a major federal lawsuit about the lack of shelter beds, and an accurate number is important to determine how many shelter beds are necessary.

The census included a survey which determined important data about North Orange County’s homeless population. Here are some of the report’s key findings:

The total count was 1,837 (1,474 unsheltered, 233 adult sheltered, 130 family sheltered). 123 were children reported.

According to KPCC, this shows a startling increase since the last estimate done in 2017, with the largest homeless populations being in Anaheim and Fullerton.

Originally published by KPCC/LAist.

Here’s a breakdown of the homeless population by city. Notice Fullerton has a total of 352 homeless people, with 233 unsheltered.

Some of the common barriers to securing housing among the region’s homeless population include: 40% have a mental health concern (a rate more than double that of the U.S. population), 45% have a permanent disability (also, a rate more than double that of the U.S. population), and 40% struggle with addiction.


The typical unsheltered or adult-sheltered homeless individual in North Orange County is a man aged 40-59 who identifies as “White” (71.6% of the population).

By contrast, the typical family-sheltered adult is a woman aged 20 to 39 who identifies ethnically as “Hispanic/Latino” (70.3%).

The report also showed a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans among the homeless population (9%), although African Americans make up only 2.3% of the county’s population.

54% of women surveyed have survived domestic violence (a rate much higher than the general U.S. women’s population).

54% of all respondents have been homeless for 3 years or more.

Veterans are represented among the region’s homeless population at more than two times the rate of their housed counterparts (9%).

63% of those surveyed receive no income. Of those with income, 78% make $1,000 per month or less.

1 in 4 respondents (25%) were previously staying in the Flood Control Channel (the Santa Ana Riverbed).

Clearly, there is great need among our region’s homeless population. On the positive side, local leaders have plans for shelters in Buena Park and Placentia, with 100 beds each. There are also plans for a permanent, 600-bed shelter in Anaheim in 2021.

Also, a new Point-In-Time homeless count of all of Orange County was conducted in January 2019 but the data isn’t expected to be released until April. Hopefully, we will not have to wait a year, as was the case with the 2018 census.

To read the full report, as well as the excellent original reporting by Jill Replogle of KPCC, click HERE.

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  1. Mike is an addict. Addicted to alcohol and drugs for nearly 40 years. He is in remission today; tomorrow is indeterminate should he succumb to despair and thus to some devilish craving. From the lows to the highs to the lows—a rollercoaster existence.

    I met him 12 years ago when he was near his high, living the warm and comfy life with his own business, a family, a house, a pool, lots of cars, lots of toys, lots of joy-rides. A marriage souring, he returned to his “friends.” His addictions devoured his warm and comfy life and he ended up on the streets with nothing. Selling his watch, his phone, his welfare card, his soul for one more high.

    At the lowest of lows a fellow that he had met in jail led him to a safe place. He found recovery and for three years he was sober. He made company with people who cared, people who helped, people who gave him purpose. He managed a halfway house, looking after several “recovered” addicts. He was earning money again.

    Unfortunately his body, reacting to years of abuse, began to fail and he spent a year in and out of hospitals. Drugs to alleviate pain pushed him closer and closer to recidivism. His purpose in life ended when he lost his job at the halfway house. Purposeless, he succumbed again to his demons.

    Another bout, one more time, courtesy of a loving mother: detox, rehab, recovery, halfway house, counseling and daily support group meetings. This time he came to a loving home, and given a purpose; returning to be a father to his son.

    Occasionally he gets into a van with some of his support group friends and looks for homeless to convince them to go into a shelter. Most often the answer is “no way, get lost.” The demons too strong to be shunned for turning their lives around. You can’t force someone to change, it must come within themselves to be successful.

    The question how do I, how does our community make a difference?

    For me it evidently takes the bout: detox, recovery, life in a hallway house, daily support meetings. More importantly it takes a loving home and purpose. Even then there is no guarantee that there will not be another ride on that rollercoaster.

    For our community? Are you willing to take someone into your life?

    (Mike is not his real name to protect his privacy)

  2. California weather draw many to come. If you are cold and homeless in the North East you can hitch a ride to Hollywoodland.

    Years ago there were places for the homeless to eat, they would walk to these centers. Now there are so many people who take all the food etc. to them and now we have enclaves, small cities with homeless.
    They no longer have to walk to get assistance. they just pitch up a tent, or makeshift homes, steal, collect and set up business.

    These people cannot follow rules, they want to be up late, bring multiple pets, drugging, drinking and hooking.

    The only place I have ever donated to is still the Salvation Army.

  3. Do the Dregs of Society Count? February 4, 2019

    A couple weeks ago I helped count the homeless in the early morning and then fed others at a shelter that evening. I was a volunteer for Everyone Counts 2019 Point In Time (PIT) in the morning and for Pathways of Hope in the evening.

    I counted, I fed, I prayed, I sent a check and then I went home to my warm, comfy life. I did my share. Or did I? Nagging me in the recesses of my mind are a dozen or so faces, a dozen or so stories, a dozen or so voices. It rained cats and dogs yesterday and ten of those I counted were on the street exposed to the elements, soaking wet and cold.

    The five faces in the shelter have a chance to return to our community, to contribute to society, to get on with their lives. They had stories and baggage and hurts but they had jobs and needed a helping hand. Pathways of Hope provided shelter, food, counseling and hope.

    Those faces on the street, the “dregs” of society—do they have a chance in life? Do the dregs of society count? Problematic. Those who we counted had addictions, had illnesses—physical or mental issues, had been in and out of shelters and even had social workers. None had been in the military. None had jobs or expressed interest in shelters. They were older, some in their 60s, some carting their minimal possessions, some apparently with nothing at all.

    Oh, they are our “homeless neighbors” and I am remiss for using the word “dregs” as not appropriate. Then the PIT training basics contradict this with a long list of dos and don’ts for safety. I was apprehensive about approaching them. However nearly each face was willing to answer our questions. Each face was counted on our smart phone and whisked away to some computer.

    As of 11 AM each face was represented as a red dot on a map of Orange County. The count was over 1500 not including shelters. The count would continue that night and the following day with an estimate of 5000 homeless; similar to the count two years ago.

    Opportunity and hope for some but for many overwhelmingly hopeless. Based upon the experiences of a friend who succumbed to addiction, the road to recovery is difficult, endless and a rollercoaster of ups and downs with the fate of recidivism probable.

    A red dot on a map! What nags me is what is the solution? How do I, how does our community make a difference?