Stop the abuse and neglect in OC emergency shelters!


People don't lose their right to live in dignity when they enter emergency shelters. But you'd never know it in Orange County, where a year- long investigation by the ACLU SoCal found an emergency shelter system that is dangerously unregulated and shelters that are downright abusive. As detailed in a newly released report, the investigation found:

  • Disability-based discrimination and elder neglect.
  • Sexual abuse by staff.
  • Racial discrimination.
  • Physical assaults and verbal abuse by staff.
  • Exposure to rain and flooding.
  • Filthy restrooms and raw sewage.
  • No heat or air conditioning.
  • Showers that are broken, leaking, or spout cold water.
  • No soap for handwashing.
  • Rodents, maggots and insects.
  • Recurrent infestations of bed bugs and lice.
  • Staff casually steal or discard residents’ belongings.
  • A futile process for obtaining permanent housing.
  • Arbitrary evictions.
  • Retaliation against residents for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to speak out about inhumane conditions.

The ACLU SoCal report calls on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to immediately raise the standards of Orange County emergency shelters and create a system of oversight that will hold the both existing and new shelters accountable to those standards.

Stand with our neighbors experiencing homelessness to demand that the Board of Supervisors adopt the ACLU SoCal's recommendations, which, if followed, will protect the human and civil rights of people experiencing homelessness.

Take action now.

Message Recipients:
OC Board of Supervisors

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Your Message

A year-long investigation by the ACLU SoCal found that Orange County emergency shelters shelter system is dangerously unregulated, and some shelters are downright abusive. The investigation uncovered filthy and decrepit living conditions, disability-based discrimination, elder neglect, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse by staff, racial discrimination, staff who steal and discard residents’ property, and retaliation against residents for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to speak out about these and other civil and human rights violations. Conditions at these shelters are not just inhumane. They are against the law.

I urge you to make the following changes necessary to protect the health and well-being of people using Orange County's emergency shelters:

1. Establish clear and binding uniform health and safety standards for all shelters and hold shelter operators accountable to those high standards.
2. Establish an Orange County Office of Civil Rights and a Civilian Oversight Board.
3. Create a countywide reasonable accommodation policy for residents with disabilities.
4. Establish policies to refer residents to higher levels of care when appropriate.
5. Create a system for secure storage of personal property and eliminate policies that limit freedom of movement.
6. Establish due process systems for denials, evictions and other sanctions.
7. Safeguard protected speech in emergency shelters.
8. Prohibit bans on residents taking photographs, video, or audio recordings inside the shelter facilities.
9. Create a safe and confidential whistleblower policy for employees and residents of emergency shelters.
10. Create opportunities for democratic participation in emergency shelter operations by residents.

You have the power to protect the civil and human rights of our most economically disadvantaged neighbors. Please implement the above referenced changes.


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