A large homeless encampment is formed in the Santa Ana Civic Center on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Santa Ana, Calif. The number of homeless living in Orange County has climbed 8 percent over the last two years. The increase is driven by soaring housing costs, though a drug addiction crisis and need for mental health services are also factors. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Food, showers, tents: Does the help help the homeless?

December 28, 2017 - 3:09 am

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Goodhearted neighbors heartbroken over the rising number of homeless in their communities are feeding and showering those in need, hoping to make a difference.

But some question whether they're doing more harm than good by helping the homeless get some of their most basic needs met outdoors.

The debate over how to help is raging up and down communities on the West Coast that are grappling with a rise in homelessness.

In California's Orange County, neighbors say they believe the assistance is drawing more homeless to a riverbed encampment in Anaheim and a nightly meal for the poor at a state beach in Dana Point.

Those providing the assistance say it builds trust with the homeless, which can help link them to housing, jobs and other services.

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