The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

“Abuse and Neglect in Orange County Shelters”

Apr 1, 2019

Homeless people staying at emergency homeless shelters in Orange County, California are subjected to horrendous conditions, according to a year-long investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This investigation’s findings are summarized in a report, “Abuse and Neglect in Orange County Shelters.”

The report documents many cases of physical and sexual abuse, mistreatment of the elderly, and neglect of residents with disabilities and mental illnesses. The ACLU found dangerously unclean conditions in each of the three shelters they investigated. Facilities got unbearably hot during summer days, and flooded during rainstorms. Staff threatened residents with eviction for minor infractions, or if they spoke out about conditions at the shelter. The living conditions in these shelters were so filthy and unbearable that one resident commented: “This place is slowly killing me.”

These conditions are so horrific that one homeless resident of these shelters, Roberta Filicko, wrote, “People who have been to jail have said jail is better than this shelter. We are so scared that we will be living on the streets, and the staff make sure to remind you of this every minute of every day. It’s true we have no one to help us, so we go along with it.”

Counties in Southern California–Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego–have the highest homeless population in the U.S. This population is increasing every passing day. At the same time, these counties are among the richest regions not only in the U.S., but the whole world.

High housing prices and rents, and low wages and income are the main reasons for more than 50% of the homelessness in Los Angeles, according to a study reported by the Los Angeles Times. This social system is not only the root cause of the dire homelessness problem, but it punishes people who look for help, forcing them into barbaric living conditions.