Supervisor Andrew Do on Homelessness (Part 2)

Do takes the oath of office from his wife, Cheri Pham, during the start of the Board of Supervisors meeting in 2015.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen

Do takes the oath of office from his wife, Cheri Pham, during the start of the Board of Supervisors meeting in 2015.

Olivia Hennessey, News Editor

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This is part of an ongoing series about homelessness in Orange County, and is part two of an interview with Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do. The first part of the interview can be found here.

This interview is transcribed from an audio recording. 

The Royal Reporter: Why do you think it was necessary to remove the encampments in the Riverbed?

 

Photo Credit: Foster Snell
Do, center, speaks to the crowd with his wife Cheri Pham, right, and daughters Ilene Do, left, and Rhiannon Do at Doug’s Downtown Grill for their Election Night event in 2016.

Supervisor Andrew Do: With all the drug use out there, there are a lot of discarded syringes that pose a real safety risk to the public, and that again raises the question of how far should we accommodate someone who chooses to be homeless, at the public’s expense? And by choosing to be free, because they are living out there, they are using the bathroom and discarding things into the riverbed, which is part of our water table, our watershed, so that means it goes straight to our water table under the ground, and the things that don’t get absorbed, they just remain in the sand, so when there is a big rain storm up in the mountains and the water flows out to the ocean, what do you think happens to all that waste? So if we have year after year of that, think of the amount of pollution that would be going straight into the ocean. So when people talk about homelessness, and they talk about accommodating the homeless, there are costs to doing nothing.

RR: Who do you think has been the most helpful and influential in putting together the motel plan?

AD: That would be our healthcare agency. They work the closest with the people on the Riverbed because they have to make the initial contact with homeless residents, and once we had an idea of the number of beds and hotel rooms we would need, it was the healthcare agency that took the lead in figuring out our capacity for us.

RR: What can high school students to do ameliorate the homelessness issue now as students?

AD: Of course you can volunteer. This is a great way to help, but educating yourself fully on the issue, and not just buying into a certain way of

Photo Credit: Paul Bersebach
Attorney Brooke Weitzman, with Elder Law and Disability Rights Center speaks during a press conference. Like the Catholic Worker, the group is trying to stop the clearing of tent encampments along the Santa Ana River Trail.

thinking or a certain approach, and believing that somehow one solution would be a cure-all for this very complex issue, is very important as well. I’m Catholic, but one instance of the lawsuit was filed against the county by the Catholic Worker of America, so it just shows you that coming from a particular faith or certain kind of perspective or commitment to help doesn’t necessarily translate to wisdom. And I think that’s the mistake that a lot of people make. They think that just because they are passionate about helping people that somehow that means they know exactly what is right for the people they are trying to help.

RR: So you would say it has to be a combination of both passion and education and knowledge?

AD: Right. And of course, when you juxtapose the personal concerns with the ultimate question, which is how much of this is society’s responsibility? And how many resources should everyone have to provide? We want to be compassionate and empathetic and helpful, but at what cost?

 

Supervisor Do brought forth many interesting points as well as a important inside stories about the government’s solutions to homelessness in Orange County, and offers good advice for high school students interested in aiding the homeless.

Thank you again Mr. Do for speaking with The Royal Reporter!

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