Once occupied by a dangerous homeless encampment, the cleaned-up Orange County Civic Center underwent a colorful makeover earlier this month, as parents and children painted chalk art murals at Supervisor Andrew Do’s Chalk and Talk event.
Supervisor Andrew Do organized the free community event with the Heritage Museum of Orange County to support the arts, promote community engagement, and reclaim public spaces for Orange County families.
“People used to be afraid to walk around the Santa Ana Civic Center,” said Supervisor Andrew Do. “Now, we’ve built a place that’s safe for children and families to draw, play and relax.”
The community art event showcased the county’s remarkable successes in combatting homelessness. In 2018, approximately 1,000 people resided in two homeless encampments at the Santa Ana Civic Center and Riverbed.
“A typical day in the Santa Ana Civic Center,” the OC Register wrote in 2016, included such hazards as “Open drug use. Assaults and rape. Urine and feces on public walkways. Untreated illnesses. Sex acts in public.”
At the August 10th Chalk and Talk event, artists from the Heritage Museum led chalk mural workshops for kids and families, while make-up artists from the Beauty Glam Academy entertained kids with face-paint art. A dozen county agencies and local organizations were also on hand to offer information about county programs and services.
“Orange County is cleaning up and taking back our public spaces for children and families,” said Supervisor Andrew Do. “This event showed what we can achieve when we work together and foster a stronger spirit of inclusion in our community.”
As the point person for the county’s homeless response, Supervisor Do worked to dismantle the dangerous homeless encampments, expand access to mental health services, and improve drug and alcohol treatment programs. In January, Orange County approved funding for a first-of-its-kind mental health center and psychiatric emergency room. Supervisor Do also successfully developed a $60 million plan to bolster homeless services and medical care with funding from CalOptima, the county’s health insurance plan for the poor and elderly.