Santa Ana Park Welcome Program to provide rent-free housing in Thornton Park

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) — Four dozen candidates are being considered to be the person or family to live rent-free in a 5th-wheel RV at a Santa Ana park.

The city’s parks hospitality program will begin with a trial at Thornton Park.

Lisa Rudloff, executive director of parks and recreation and community services, said it was something she had seen working with the city of Encinitas, where she previously worked.

“Free utilities, they can have a job, but in exchange, we’d like them to be the ambassador for the park, you know, to create those relationships with the community,” Rudloff said.

Additionally, the host could address some of the issues found in city parks. “There’s vandalism, there’s graffiti and not very positive things happening in the parks,” Rudloff said.

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If the pilot program works, Santiago, Centennial and two other parks will follow.

The department has five nearly new fifth wheels to use, thanks to federal funding. They were previously used in homeless shelters to isolate people who tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’re going to deep clean them before somebody comes in and uses them, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to set it up,” Rudloff said.

Along with plans for new amenities and events at Santa Ana parks, city staff said they want someone to keep tabs on things and help keep parks active to deter crime.

Rudloff said the host will have access to park security, rangers and police, when they see fit.

Some of the fifth wheels can expand to accommodate families with multiple children and immigration status will not be in question.

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