Andrew Kosch of the nonprofit City Net drives a recently donated utility cart through the riverbed homeless encampment in Anaheim on Monday, August 28, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Brandy Barnett appreciated the lift.
Barnett, 45, had been living along the Santa Ana River trail for nearly a month when her application through the nonprofit City Net and Illumination Foundation for transitional housing was approved.
With her bags of clothes and other stuff inside a shopping cart, she would have had to push the cart and walk nearly a mile through the riverbed to a bus stop to get to her motel.
But City Net’s newest tool – golf carts – made her trip a little easier.
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“I’m glad this is here. It’s hot today,” said Barnett as she placed her stuff in the back of the carts.
The City Council in August approved donating two Taylor-Dunn utility carts from the Anaheim Convention Center to assist their partner agency, City Net, navigate the riverbed, where a large homeless encampment has sprouted in recent years.
In the past couple of months, the nonprofit has received two other golf carts donated by the Disneyland Resort and most recently a shipping container for storage. An RV is stationed off a bike trail near Orangewood Avenue. Workers offer bottled water, snacks and a listening ear to homeless passers-by.
“Sometimes they just want to talk,” said Gigi Zanganeh, director of City Net. “It’s important we gain their trust so we can help them.”
Zanganeh said the new tools allow her co-workers to better assist the estimated 400 homeless living along the one and a half mile stretch of the Santa Ana River trail. Make shift homes and tent encampments line an area south of Angel Stadium to Honda Center.
The carts easily travel across on the bike path and flat lands alongside the riverbed, she said. The shipping container donated by the Taormina family let City Net temporarily store some homeless people’s belongings as they prepare to move out and into transitional housing.
“It’s a practical thing,” Zanganeh said. “It allows us to be more mobile and if we have a client ready to move out to transitional or a different type of housing, we have the means to help them out.”
Prior to the golf carts, the nonprofit and homeless moving out had to rely on people willing to drive big trucks or cars on the small stretch of land.
The golf carts donated by the city are 15 years old and worth about $700 each.
Barnett said she appreciates the service and was ready to move on to a place to stay. A series of medical issues and related expenses had left her without a place to stay. She lived in an abandoned office before settling along the river bed.
“This isn’t a great place for anybody,” she said.
Barnett was elated when she received bridge housing. She said she’s ready to get settled and find a permanent place to stay.
“I just want to continue doing God’s work and appreciate everything I have and everything around me every day,” she said.