Position on Homelessness in San Diego County
There are an increasing number of persons who are homeless in San Diego County. The problem must be humanely addressed for the benefit of these individuals and families, for our communities, and for our society.
The League of Women Voters of North San Diego County and the League of Women Voters San Diego support programs and policies to assist those who are homeless or about to become homeless in meeting their basic human needs.
Permanent supportive housing should be the goal of San Diego County and local jurisdictions within the County for those who are homeless.
Strategies that should be developed to achieve that goal include:
- “Housing First” policy that provides, without prerequisites, temporary, transitional or other initial housing for persons who are homeless;
- Provision of supportive services, including effective case management, advocacy, and treatment for mental health and substance abuse as needed to help those who are homeless succeed in obtaining and maintaining housing;
- A region-wide system with clearly identified goals and measurable results to optimize cooperation, data sharing, and resource development among governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations with the overarching goal to end existing homelessness and prevent future homelessness;
- Rescission by local jurisdictions and San Diego County of policies, practices, regulations and laws that criminalize, penalize, or permit the harassment of homeless persons for engaging in necessary life activities in public spaces (i.e., sleeping, standing, camping, etc.);
- Provision of facilities to meet the needs of those who are homeless for personal hygiene, storage, and trash removal, as well as safe spaces for tents, cars or recreational vehicles used for sleeping.
The idea for the study grew out of discussions by the Public Policy Committee of LWVSD in 2016. Since it was an issue for more than communities in the San Diego League the North County League was invited to participate in the study. Most of the work of the committee was done in 2017 and the consensus meetings were held in February 2018 with members present at both Leagues endorsing the proposed position. Both League boards also approved the proposed position in March 2018 and are scheduled to seek final approval of the position at the respective annual meetings in June 2018.
The committee was comprised of: Myles Pomeroy, Cathy Greene, Bill Loftus, Cathy O’Leary Carey, Jeanne Brown, Marjie Larson, Joni Halpern, Pearl Mora, Ann McDonald, Lori Theil, Peg Engel, Judy Swink and Kay Ragan, Chair. Twelve committee meetings were held along with numerous email communications between meetings, a presentation by committee members was provided for the memberships of each League midway of our study, monthly updates were printed in our respective VOTERS and two consensus meetings, with presentations by committee members were held. Approximately 60 people were in attendance at the North County meeting and 45 members at the San Diego meeting.
The committee members heard presentations from numerous community leaders on the topic of Homelessness. They included: Gordon Russell, Director of San Diego Housing Federation; Erica Snyder, San Diego Housing Commission; Phil Bona, President, American Institute of Architects; Lynn Reaser, Ph.D. Chief Economist, Fermanean Business and Economic Institute; Nico Colavita, retired professor of city planning; SDSU, Dolores Diaz, Executive Director of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless; Cris Ward, District 3 City Council member, Chair of the City Council Committee on Homelessness and Vice Chair of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. We also heard from Ishmahan Abdullah from the Housing Justice Coalition and Sara Moser and David Malmuth, one of two partners in the IDEA District redevelopment in East Village.
Committee members attended meetings of the Regional Taskforce on Homelessness and the San Diego City Council Committee on Homelessness. We also attended forums where numerous speakers representing providers and those who are homeless spoke. Members of the committee attended showings of the movie, “Tony” and both Leagues provided programs to the public of the movie.
Lydia, a woman who has been homeless off and on for the last 20 years and a friend and client of Joni Halpern, made presentations to the committee and at both of the general meetings. She was one of our best resources.
A PowerPoint presentation was developed by Bill Loftus, North County LWV, with script contributions from each committee member. The PowerPoint and commentary are available on both League websites.
We read and researched more than 300 articles, papers, internet resources and a list of those sources is available. Paper copies of most of the documents are also available upon request. We believe the best summary of our work is presented in the power point commentary and the final Position on Homelessness.