At the 11th hour, a federal judge temporarily barred the city of Orange from its controversial eviction from a long-standing soup kitchen for the homeless, which had been operating off city property for decades.
Orange officials intended to start cooking at the town’s property before 5 p.m. Saturday, according to city hall spokesman Paul Sitkoff.
“Closing Mary’s Kitchen would further strain already overburdened city services by spreading homeless people across town and county, making targeted service delivery more difficult,” says a Sept. 17 order from the judge. of US District Court David O. Carter.
“Beyond individual complainants, there are over 300 homeless members of the public who would be harmed by the closure of Mary’s Kitchen,” Carter’s minutes read.
The order comes after a prominent regional homeless lawyer, Brooke Weitzman of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, filed this week for a temporary restraining order preventing the city from forcing the kitchen out.
Weitzman shared the minute command with Voice of OC on Friday.
Read it here.
City officials told Mary’s Kitchen earlier this year that after decades of letting volunteers feed, clothe and wash the homeless on a tucked-away property in the city, the facility must be gone.
Sitkoff said he couldn’t comment on the order on Friday afternoon, adding that he had yet to hear from the city’s attorney on the matter.
The order of minutes reads as follows:
“Orange City employees and agents are prohibited from taking any action to terminate the Mary’s Kitchen lease, including, but not limited to, obstructing the applicant’s access to the property or preventing the plaintiff to provide food, sanitation and medical services, until time, as this matter may still be argued at the preliminary injunction hearing.
A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, September 30 at 9 a.m., and the restraining order “will remain in effect until the court rules on the preliminary injunction,” the order said.
Carter has already issued similar orders.
In a 2018 civil lawsuit against Orange County and some cities, Carter blocked county officials from evicting hundreds of homeless people from the Santa Ana Riverbed, near Angel Stadium and the Honda Center.
Weitzman was also one of the lead lawyers in this case.
[Read: Federal Judge Temporarily Halts Riverbed Homeless Evictions]
Soon after, Carter walked the length of the homeless camps with county officials to formulate a strategy on what to do next.
Carter and county supervisors agreed to move homeless people from the Santa Ana Riverbed to motel rooms as the county and cities, like Anaheim and Santa Ana, build more homeless shelters.
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter and a member of the Corps of Report for America, an initiative of GroundTruth. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @photherecord.