Meet James,* one of the newest residents at the Santa Ana Civic Center.
How did the elderly combat veteran end up here?
On one unlucky day, he experienced some health problems and was taken to the hospital. Upon his release, he discovered his motorhome, where he sleeps, had been towed and impounded while he was in the hospital.
Confined to a wheelchair and with nowhere else to go, James spends his days and nights at the Civic Center, relying on the help of kind strangers to survive.
The Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) met James during its Civic Center Intake Clinic. James’ sole request was for assistance in getting his home back.
“James’ story was heartbreaking,” says LASOC Directing Attorney, William T. Tanner. “Here is someone who sacrificed and fought for our country, and now he lives in a wheelchair at the Civic Center.”
James is just one of the many homeless veterans LASOC has encountered and is currently assisting at the Civic Center. Every Thursday LASOC staff, law students, and volunteers visit the Civic Center to offer free legal services to the nearly 450 residents living there.
In 2015, the homeless census counted 447 homeless veterans in Orange County. Eighty percent of those counted weren’t sleeping in a shelter or any other type of temporary housing.
The Commission to End Homelessness estimates that veterans represent 12% of all homeless adults in Orange County.
“Our organization’s mission is to provide equal access to justice and to serve those in our community who are most vulnerable,” explains LASOC Supervising Attorney, Renato Izquieta. “Veterans are a unique and important part of our client community. And what better way to honor their bravery and sacrifices by serving them as well as they have served our country.”
This Veterans Day, please keep the men and women of our military in mind, and consider donating to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County to allow us to continue to provide free legal services to those like James who have sacrificed for our country.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.