Not laziness, not mental illness, not alcoholism, and not mental illness

But the city tearing down 22,000 low-income housing rentals

“We need the city to step in and take over."
  • “We need the city to step in and take over."

Tearing down the house

I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Salaam’s article in City Lights, “Homeless invade, pollute, ignite Fox Canyon” (City Lights, December 5) and do not dispute it whatsoever. It is the job of an editor, not a reporter, to help make sense out of news and provide the surrounding details and possible solutions. San Diego for 30 years and especially the last 20 years followed a path that led directly to its present homeless problem, with 35,000 people without housing and fake counts making their numbers as low as 9,000.

Wendy Miller, who resides along Fox Canyon, believes “that these folks living down there are so determined and so entrenched that it’s going to take years [to remove them] at the rate we’re going.”

Wendy Miller, who resides along Fox Canyon, believes “that these folks living down there are so determined and so entrenched that it’s going to take years [to remove them] at the rate we’re going.”

The Federal Courts heard three years of testimony from detectives they hired to find the cause of San Diego’s homeless problem, and determined the City and County to be 100% at-fault for same, all caused by Redevelopment tearing down 22,000 low-income housing rentals. Not laziness, not mental illness, not alcoholism, and not mental illness. Politics. Most San Diego lawyers can explain all this to you, but I am not an attorney. As a result of San Diego intentionally failing to allow low-income housing, plus tearing down that which existed, the Federal Courts ordered that anyone homeless in San Diego can camp out on any City-owned land, forever, or until San Diego builds a lot more housing for them to rent, which it has not. Our homeless need only jobs that pay enough to rent housing, plus housing that the City never permitted to be constructed, throwing low-cost housing providers out of town regularly.

All of this is a “Right to Life” issue, plus the City of San Diego is responsible for providing housing for its poor, required by the State Constitution. The courts also threw out local laws such as “Must Move Upon Request”, “illegal lodging”, “cannot return within 48 hours”, and all other laws and rules which would interfere with the San Diego homeless and their right to live permanently on City property. Technically, interference could be construed as “Contempt of Court”, and there have been several modifications to the Federal Court Order over the years. To comply with lifting the Court Order, San Diego only needs to allow housing developers to create housing that current homeless can afford, nothing else. Our downtown homeless problem is one of transportation, because it is the only place in San Diego with all services within walking distance.

Solutions are to use the Amikas.Org “Tiny Houses” program that has been such a success in other cities, or the use of San Diego’s $78 million a year HUD money to actually build housing, or even to hire the homeless so they can pay for housing. As for fires, the past ten-or-so years, nearly every fire in a homeless camp was proven to be arson, caused by a non-homeless person trying to burn the homeless out. The good news is now that the Democrats will be running City Hall, there is a slight chance that something real will be done on the homeless situation, instead of just spending tax money on repeatedly-failed programs that make a lot of money for the friends and families of our politicians. For 20 years, at least 1,000 low-income housing units were torn down in San Diego, without any units built to replace them. That resulted in homeless everywhere, including Fox Canyon.

  • Dr. John Kitchin
  • Tijuana

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Moving somewhere else is easier said than done when you have no resources. Many homeless here are working homeless who work but can’t find affordable housing.

Although I agree somewhat with Dr. Tichens assessment of our homeless crisis and the cause, I take issue with some of his comments.

As I was the person interviewed for this article, I want to clarify that our issue in Fox Canyon is homeless encampments on private, not public property. Totally different circumstance. As a homeowner, we have been told we are responsible, not the City, for getting the police out to remove the people (they are technically trespassing) and bearing the cost of what has been left behind. On public property, the cost is born by the City. We feel that is unfair in that the people living in our canyons have moved there as a result of being removed from downtown.

I would also like to know where Dr. Kitchin gets his statistic about most fires being set by people trying to “burn the homeless out”. With the extreme fire hazard in our canyons, someone would have to be crazy to deliberately set a fire. Of the 3 fires that I personally know of in Fox Canyon, they were all accidentally set by the people in the encampments. Sorry, dude, that just is not the happening here. I have heard that some homeless have threatened to burn down the canyon if they are forced to move. I don’t know if that has actually happened.

As well, most people I have spoken to in our community are sympathetic to the plight of the homeless. We are not an uncaring community. Our issue is the extreme fire hazard to our neighborhood and the envirnmental hazard the waste and debris cause as it leeches down the storm drains into our oceans. I know as a fact the the SDSP Homeless Outreach Team have approached the people in our canyons to offer them a bed and services to better their situation. Some go but most do not. This has become home to them (in answer to the other comment, why don’t they just move?).

To be fair, it may be a matter of too little too late, but the City is attempting to address the multi faceted issue of the homeless and affordable housing. They created the HOT team to help those who are willing to utilise services. They have lowered costs to build and relaxed regulations. They have identified public property to build housing on. I would hope they would give priority to non-profit housing organizations like the CDC and CHW. I think that should be a mandate, in my opinion and I have expressed so to the new City Council President, Georgette Gómez. It will take political will and community acceptance to solve what has become a crisis.

It would be helpful if the millions of organizations who help the homeless had a service to hire them to clean out the encampments, similar to Urban Corps, which would provide the liability insurance, framework for hiring and other assistance so that private property owners could at least hire somebody who can legally and safely do the clean-up work.

If the State of California, City and County of San Diego GOV, along with the various incorporated cities in the county, really applied solutions to problems, there would be affordable housing. The problem is there is no profit for the real e$tate developers, nor landlords, in helping the crisis of homelessness. It's much more attractive for the local politicos to say they want to expand the convention center ($$$), they want to build a super $ports complex, or boot Anthony's out of the long-time building in the S.D. Port District's jurisdiction, because some big developer and large chain restaurant owners wanna put something more pretty there, which greatly increases revenue/profit streams, for decades to come, which a portion goes back to the bureaucracies of the SD Port District, SD City and others. The "pretty" part is you would not want the old unsightly Anthony's too close to Little Italy with all the folks paying $3,000/month for a cute studio apartment.

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