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Federal Judge Presses OC Officials on Lack of Mental Health Shelter, Housing

One of Orange County’s next homeless shelters could be in the region that so far has refused to host new shelters – the affluent south county suburbs.

A federal judge, expressing his frustration Tuesday at the lack of appropriate shelter in Orange County for homeless people with severe mental illnesses, suggested they might ultimately be sheltered and treated on a large tract of block-sized parking lots surrounding a pyramid-shaped federal complex in the affluent suburb of Laguna Niguel.

A year after county officials evicted hundreds of homeless people living in encampments on the Santa Ana riverbed, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter on Tuesday convened a public status meeting in ongoing federal civil rights lawsuits that have the potential of blocking cities’ ability to enforce anti-camping laws .

Carter invited many top public officials in Orange County to the hearing. One by one, city officials stepped to the podium in front of Carter’s dais and detailed their progress on creating shelters.