In what was billed as Councilman Ed Harris‘ “Homeless Issues Meeting”, at the Point Loma library last night, July 10, at a standing-room only crowd, angry OB and Pt Loma residents and a few businesspeople met up with folks who serve the homeless and who displayed more compassion for the less fortunate. And apparently, there were no homeless people present.
The meeting –
which Harris also did not attend – generated different accounts (the OB Rag did not have a reporter present) and Councilman Harris had to depart 20 minutes into the meeting.
OB Jess reported the following:
When I went to the forum on the homeless last night I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, I just wanted to go and listen to all the different concerns of my neighbors and my community. It started at 5:30 so I only caught the last 45 minutes but that’s when community members spoke and that was who I most wanted to hear from.
There were OB (and Pt. Loma) residents, people who work and own businesses in the midway district and people who work with the homeless offering services. I fall into all 3 of those categories (I do not presently work in social services but in the decade where i did most of my work was with the homeless populations in Colorado and San Diego) so I found myself nodding my head or clapping for just about everyone, even if their visions and ideas did not quite match.
The issues of homelessness is complex, there were at least 5 different “types” of homeless persons described by various folks and varying ideas on how the situation should be managed. There will be more meetings and the spokeswoman from the office of Councilman Harris said she hopes people will come back with ideas and get involved in the process so if this topic is important to you, come get involved! I never would have know if not for this blurb and I’m very glad that I went. Most of the people who spoke made valid, well thought out points, even when I did not agree with them!
However, SanDiego6 had a different take on it:
Anger over what some see as the increasing problem of homelessness in Ocean Beach came to a head at a meeting Thursday night in Point Loma. …
Ocean Beach, which just down the road, may be known for its laid-back attitude, but some residents say it’s time to get tough on the problem of homelessness.
OB resident Shelley Guererro was reported to say:
“I’ve had to replace five different gates and three different locks because I’m in a war against these people,” said . “I’ve felt threatened, and it’s hard when the police can’t help you, and nobody seems to be able to help you, and there are people coming, living around your house and they’re dropping their clothes.”
One business owner, Hudi Eshel of Embargo Grill, stated:
“You’re solving the problem downtown, do you know where your problem is going? Your problem is coming here.”
Local lawyer and surfer Craig Klein had this to say:
“Although the people who are doing the feedings are very well intentioned, (there’s) some guy sitting on the seawall doing a big bong hit and then food appears right next to him.”
Channel 8News reported:
Embargo Grill owner in Point Loma says he found a homeless man drinking a handle of liquor on his patio at lunch time. When he arrives in the morning he finds homeless people are leaving a mess in the back parking lot. “Two days ago there were condoms, there was feces on the floor, toilet paper was all over the parking lot,” said Hudi Eshel.
Families and business owners say they are done venting and done taking care of the homeless problem themselves and they want the city step up.
More compassion for the homeless was also shown. CBS8 stated:
A Point Loma resident stood up at the meeting and acknowledged the homeless problem but says he doesn’t feel threatened. “It’s a free country they are allowed to live where they want and do what they want more or less,” said a man who only gave the name “Ed.”
Homeless advocates and reps from agencies were also there. CBS8 reported:
“… homeless resources such as Connections Housing, San Diego County Department of Mental Health, Regional Task Force for Homeless and San Diego Housing Commission spoke about the homeless problem and what they are doing to resolve the issues in San Diego.
Tom Theisen from the Regional Task Force for Homelessness says 25 percent of the homeless population want to help themselves, “I tell you folks there are homeless people coming to San Diego everyday.”
Jeffrey Sitcov said he understands people’s frustration, but if anyone is ever going to really solve the homeless issue, it has to start with young people. City statistics indicate there are a few thousand homeless people between the ages of 12 and 24 in San Diego.
“These kids are homeless mostly not by choice,” Sitcove said. “They don’t want to be homeless. Their parents are drug addicts, their parents are in prison.”
Sitcov founded a group called Photo Charity that matches up homeless youth with musical instruments or art supplies. He said that helps them build trust and eventually makes it easier to rescue the kids from homelessness, perhaps not a solution, but a start.
So, once again OB and Point Loma have community forums on the homeless – and once again the meeting was held without any actual homeless people present. And once again, the angry ones got to have their say, and once again public and government reps offered their condolences and views.
The advocates and the agency folks could be expected to offer some compassion and they reportedly did, but again – they were quoted as opining that homeless people should not be fed at Saratoga Park or the OB seawall at the food of Newport Avenue. This flies in the face of what local groups believe and do in serving houseless people at the beach, such as Second Chances who hosted a BBQ for the homeless in Saratoga Park on July 4th without a hitch.