Friday, March 19, 2010

Current Statistics on Homelessness in Orange County

*From the OC Community Indicators Report 2008

How is Orange County Doing?
Orange County’s Housing Wage rates increased in 2007:
• The hourly wage needed for a one-bedroom apartment rose from $23.81 in 2006 to $25.57 in 2007 – equivalent to an annual income
of $53,185.
• Among state and national peer metropolitan areas, Orange County has the highest Housing Wage (less affordable rental housing).
• According to employment projections, most of the occupations likely to have large gains in the county’s high-growth industries (services,
manufacturing, and retail trade) have hourly wages far below the Housing Wage.

(from page 26)



Description of Indicator

This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress toward
housing stability by tracking availability of rental assistance,
residential overcrowding, and homelessness. For additional countywide
housing trends see Housing Demand, Housing Affordability,
and Rental Affordability.

Why is it Important?
High housing costs in Orange County force many families into
overcrowded living conditions, which places stress on personal
relationships, housing stock, public services and infrastructure.
When sharing housing is not an option, or other factors such as
foreclosure, financial loss, or domestic violence arise, the result can
be homelessness.

How is Orange County Doing?
Residents might have to wait as long as seven years for rental
assistance vouchers unless conditions or funding levels change:
• In 2005, when the Orange County Housing Authority’s Section 8 waiting list was opened for the first time since 2001, 18,600 families applied for vouchers to help defray high housing costs.
• Santa Ana and Anaheim each have their own housing authority
and their vouchers are similarly in high demand.
• The voucher supply is limited because housing authorities have
not been given the opportunity to apply to the federal government
for additional housing vouchers since 2003.

In response to No Child Left Behind, public school districts now
report the number of students identified as homeless, which the law
defines as children living in shelters or unsheltered in cars, parks or
campgrounds, as well as students living in motels or
overcrowded conditions:
• In 2006/07, 13,130 Orange County students primarily in grades K-12 were identified as homeless or unstably housed.1
• This is a 13% increase over the past year.
• Families living doubled- or tripled-up in someone else’s home due to economic hardship are the largest cohort with 11,639 students living in this kind of overcrowded condition.
• Orange County school districts report an additional 813 students live in motels, 473 live in shelters, and 144 students live unsheltered in cars, parks or campgrounds.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Poverty in the OC" - Interactive Presentation
Over the last five years I've put together a brief interactive presentation that educates people about what poverty looks like in Orange County, as well as what God's Word says about how we should respond to those in need around us, combined with practical suggestions about how to get started serving the poor in our community.

So far God has blessed me to share this interactive and informative presentation with several groups ranging from mega-churches in Costa Mesa (RockHarbor), to house churches throughout Orange, and at conferences in Tustin ("The Heart of Jesus") and Newport Beach ("Soul Survivor: Engage").

The presentation is the easiest thing I've ever done because, the way it's structured, I hardly have to teach or speak at all. Instead everyone who participates draws one slip of paper from two different piles- one is a stack of stats on poverty in the O.C., the other is a verse from Scripture regarding God's heart for the poor.

I ask each person to take one of each and write a reaction to these two randomly drawn bits of information. After they're done I ask each person to read their stat, read their verse and share with the group their reactions.

Every time I have lead one of these presentations I have always been amazed at how these "random" verses collide with the statistics on poverty. We never get through the presentation without someone breaking into tears or having a serious moment with the Holy Spirit concerning the very real issues of poverty families face here in our community and the heart of God for His people to love them and respond.

Each time God has amazed me with what He's done in people's lives and how He's touched the hearts of many to step out and serve others.

If you, or any other group or church you know of, would be interested in having me come and share this presentation with you, I'd be happy to do so. This will work with both large and small groups of people.

My heart's desire is to see God's people here in Orange County step out of their comfort zones and begin to love the least and the lost in the community around us.

Let me know if you have any questions about this or if I can serve you in this area.


Keith Giles
Email: "Elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"


I highly recommend Keith Giles’ interactive presentation on “Poverty in the OC”. First Keith knows his topic. He brings together careful research with the practical wisdom and undiminished compassion that comes with years of first-hand experience.

Secondly, he has a gracious approach to teaching his topic that shames nobody, and engages everybody – young and old. He was able heighten our awareness of the serious problem of poverty, and at the same time to inspire in us a new sense of possibility that ordinary people like us, with God’s help, could make a difference in the lives of those in need. Keith’s compassion for the poor in Orange County is infectious, and by the time he had finished we had all caught the bug.

Marti Clark
Regional ALPHA Ministries Event Coordinator

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Poverty in our country may not be as severe as what we see in Africa or India or Mexico, but that does not mean that it is any less poverty.

For example, if you were to give air conditioning or color television to one of those families living in a cardboard box in the Sudan, would they cease being poor? Of course not. And families in America with color tvs and air conditioning are no less poor because of their level of comfort. They are still poor. And they are "Our Poor".

I belive that there is a Biblical difference between how we are called to serve the poor in other countries and "our poor". The poor in India, Mexico, Ethiopa, etc. are seriously, desperately poor. No one argues that. This is why I've served on the board for groups like Arms of Love (, a ministry that builds orphanages in the poorest nations of the world to provide homes for street children who live in the city dumps and are forced into prostitution, etc.
So, please, let's be clear; I'm not saying don't help the poor who are "out there".

But the poor in your city, in my city, down the street from me, they are "our poor", and what we're called to do, Biblically, is something about it. Not to solve poverty. Not to cure it. Not to erase poverty forever, but to do what we can to help a few, in the name of Jesus and with the compassion of Jesus.

Actually, as I've said before, the point of serving the poor is not to "cure" or "solve" poverty, but to befriend people who are in need and to learn to love and serve them as we would serve and love Jesus. We are the one's who are most changed in that relationship, by the way.

The quote from Jesus in Matthew about "the poor you will always have with you" was Jesus referencing Deuteronomy 15:7-11. You should seriously read this passage. The point is that God, the Father, is commanding the Jews to not have a hard-heart or a closed fist towards the poor, the stranger, etc., but to give generously, freely to the poor among them. At the end of the passage, God say, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

That's what Jesus means when he says what he does in Matthew.

Read Matthew 25. At the Judgment Seat of Christ the one criteria is whether or not those who call him "Lord" had any regard for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the prisoner. The Sheep almost unconsciously care for these poor, not because they think it will get them into Heaven, but simply because they have genuinely been transformed into the people of God. The Goats, who also call Him "Lord", have the same unconscious attitude, but towards the existence of the poor or their needs.

The people of God, redeemed by the Blood, saved by Grace, seem to have an inability to walk past someone who is naked, poor, hungry, thirsty, lonely, etc. and do nothing. They cannot do that. It's not in their new nature.

We have a Biblical mandate (and it's alllll over the Scripture, both Old and New) to care for the poor..."our poor"...and that takes more than writing a check.

Again, this is my very biased conviction. I've been hammered by God on this issue and I cannot let it go because it won't let me go.

Do you know what the sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49. It's not what you think. "Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."


How about this one?

Galatians 2:10- "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." (Paul being sent out as the first missionary by Peter, James and John).


{God is speaking of King Josiah:}
"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16)


"Is that not what it means to know me?"

What does it mean to "Know" God? This verse suggests that it means to care for the poor and the needy.

and of course we could also look at, Isaiah 58:6-7, Amos 5:21-24, 1 John 3:17-18, James 2:14-17, etc., etc.

God has called us to care for the poor, not to justify their poverty or our lack of compassion by comparing them to the "real poor" in third world countries. are we doing with serving and loving and befriending "Our Poor"?

-Keith Giles

OC POVERTY SUMMIT - Saturday, March 20th

This will be a small, in-home gathering of about 25 different social justice practitioners and a few seekers who are interested in learning more about God's heart for the poor and how poverty in Orange County is affecting people around us.

Here are a few of the people who will be joining in this unscripted conversation about poverty in Orange County:

Brandt Russo (
Crissy Brooks (MIKA CDC)
Jarred Romley (de la Soul)
Tommy Nixon (Solidarity Rising)
David Ruis (Basilea Church)
Ron Wilbur (Saddleback Motel Ministry)
Thomas Crisp (Biola)
Wendy McMahan (Poverty Unlocked)
Chase Andre
Keith Giles (
....and others

Looking forward to what God will do as we gather together.

More later...