What You Can Do Besides Being an OB Vigilante

by on October 3, 2019 · 29 comments

in Homelessness, Ocean Beach

By Brett Warnke

John Brady, a local advocate who has experienced homelessness in his own past, is the Director of Advocacy for the Voices of Our City Choir.  He’s on the YIGBY task force focused on faith-based properties to build affordable and low-income housing for people in need.

He doesn’t take my own adversarial approach to local anti-homeless vigilante groups, but he says he supports people who want to keep their communities safe.  He also doesn’t know much about the anti-homeless groups quoted in a recent mediocre, poorly written profile by Channel 8’s Abbie Alford.

However, Brady does see a need for informed interdictions regarding unsheltered people.

“This group is clearly targeting people who are suffering from a lack of shelter,” Brady said.

“If people want to help they should be trained in trauma-informed care. Look, few people are born on the street.  Life events have led to this and we need people who can provide resources or an empathetic relationships with those who are suffering.  Is that what is happening here?”

Homelessness is not a criminal act, whatever the barroom talk may be.

Similarly, the President may want to shoot undocumented people in the leg or put alligators in a moat around a non-existent wall, but it does not make an illegal crossing worse than a misdemeanor under U.S. law.

Nor is it a crime to sleep on the street between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., no matter how inconvenient or irksome it is for people who live in neighborhoods with a homeless population. In an impressive recent move, La Jolla’s  town council has formed an outreach group in training volunteers that when local residents engage with the homeless population they can help.

“With this training, people can contact county outreachers, the Alpha Project, Veterans Village, or any number of social service providers that offer treatment for those with mental illness or a substance abuse disorder,” Brady said.

There clearly is a need, even if shabby outlets like Channel 8 choose not to mention them in their so-called journalism.  For example, in 2018 there were 8,576 people in San Diego county who did not have shelter. Of those, 3,586 were in shelters and 4,990 did not have access to a bed because there are no resources.

“I’ve spent 3 days trying to get someone into a shelter bed tonight,” Brady said in a recent interview.  “If I am a board member and I can’t get someone a bed resources faster than that, there are issues.”

Imagine also the bed resources that are available:  Some people don’t do well sleeping with a couple hundred of others.  Some people have pets, families, or extenuating circumstances including trauma.

There will always be those who blame the people on the street as well as claim there are beds available, always without evidence.  Often they are the same people who want to criminalize homelessness. However, for those actually interested in the unsheltered people, the Regional Task Force on Homelessness in San Diego is a great resource for best practices for what is happening on the streets of the city

The task force is responsible for statistics on our area’s homelessness.  The real count in 2019 found that of 8,102 homeless individuals over 3,626 had a shelter while 4,476 were unsheltered.  It may be an inconvenient fact for ignorant screamers, internet trolls, misguided homeless-haters or go-get-’em vigilante groups, but tonight there will be unsheltered people on the streets of San Diego because of insufficient resources.

Yes, it may be inconvenient, but it doesn’t make this fact any less true.

 

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Sam October 3, 2019 at 3:48 pm

If someone is sleeping on the street and not bothering anybody, then so be it. But if junkies and thugs are living on the street AND terrorizing the neighborhood, that is a different kettle of fish. Law abiding taxpayers should be allowed to live without being in fear that some junkie is going to sneak up behind them and punch them in the back of the head. They should also have the right to expect to not have used toilet paper and bottles of urine sitting in front of their houses.

Yes, there need to be more resources from the city, but in the meantime, we should have a right to take back the streets and run undesirables out of town. An eye for an eye and all that jazz.

I hear everybody crying about the rights of junkies but not the rights of the vast majority of the population. That’s not right. We should have rights too!

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Avatar Chris October 4, 2019 at 11:26 am

Actually, you have NEVER heard or read anyone advocating for the rights of “junkies”.

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Avatar triggerfinger October 3, 2019 at 5:35 pm

i have a novel idea, how about you put down your keyboard and practice what you preach instead of shaming your neighbors?

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Avatar Martinhite October 3, 2019 at 10:13 pm

If you come to me in la Jolla and you say you are going to help me on my path,that you have been trained in the art of pointing out the way I could go. I don’t know you. ( although you impress me in that bright green reflective safety vest)I think it’s awesome that you are doing this of your own free will,not to mention your time!!but I’ve been here for a minute and helping me get a bed at alfa project or the like might be tre’cool,it would most likely be a waste of time,I’ve been in and out of these places over the 476years that I’ve been homeless!and what I lack is the ability to adhere to any structure to be used to take the steps necessary to get me back to a point in life where I would be able to navigate anything for more than 30days helping people take a step is a wonderful thing but it’s like a dr. Saying “you’re being released from the mental hospital today with 30days worth of meds and you follow up with this dr. And that worker” (you see he knows because he has been trained in the art of fixing mentally ill people….ect ect ect)with the step you have helped me take comes the responsibility (on my part)of maintaining a basic structure on my path to wellness, appointments,follow ups,paperwork from hell,travel back and forth,I figured out a long time ago that I am unable to navigates path to “wellness “or I would have done it a a a long time ago ,it’s very nice of people who are trained in the art of pointing out the way to..well,point out the way,to help someone take that first step in the right direction is awesome!but all those steps that follow,those are the ones that scare me, you might be helping me with the bed but it will require me to commit to something I’m not able to do,get me a bed but will you show up next week and help me follow up on my life?because I as a a homeless person I need much more than help with the first step,I need guidance.or you could just give me $2

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Avatar retired botanist October 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Martinhite-
You’ve nailed the crux of the problem so well. First, I wish you well and I care about your challenges, and realize they are lifelong challenges that aren’t going to be fixed by a few nights in an Alpha bed (tho, bless them, they provide some much needed, temporary relief for people). I’m probably not able to help you in any meaningful way, as you so poignantly note, but would like the rest of the readers to pay attention to your points:
In my experience with a much loved family member over decades of struggle with, generally, navigating “life in the U.S.”, some substance issues, and some medical and psychiatric issues, the problem is not “a bed”, “a treatment”, or “an appt”. The problem is a very large gap that comes after the detox centers, after the halfway houses, after and during the “forms from hell”.
That gap can be described as simply “no one cares after 30 days”. My family member was lucky (and I say this not to pat myself on the back, I say this from observation of dozens of others) because I was there, and because I cared A LOT. I saw so many men in halfway houses that just broke my heart. No one cared about them. No one expected, or wanted, to see them each day for something meaningful. No one cared whether they found jobs, or any fellowship or community. They were given free bus passes, they’re bologna sandwiches were weighed each day to the requisite minimum content, and when their benefits ran out, or they ‘used’ a substance, or they failed to complete a veritable minefield of forms and obligations required by social services, they were just re-turfed w/ their duffle bag of possessions. And the cycle began again.
Coping with staying afloat, coping with lack of self-esteem, coping with a lonely life, coping with a lack of the necessary, and incredibly complicated, life skills required today to even maintain subsistence living, is the elephant in the room that our society seems unable to deal with. AA, NA, Alpha, Father Joe and so many other organizations continue to do a wonderful service, I am grateful to all of them, but their service is understandably focused.
This is what makes this OB vigilante story so sad. If these people could just put the shoe on the other foot for one moment, try and empathize what its like to be a person that NO ONE cares about… to not have relatives, to not have anyone looking for you, to be shirked for the $2 b/c one might spend it on something outside the agenda…to feel helpless, hopeless, and hapless.
Somehow, as a culture we must find a way to fill this gap. Not with religion, not with medication, not with short-lived services that always have a ticking clock. We have to CARE. That’s the start.
Thanks for your comments.

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Avatar Tammy October 5, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Having personally helped a former homeless friend get off the streets and into housing, I was appalled at the multi- level process and how many different agencies around San Diego that required a ton of paperwork to be filled out. At the time, I thought to myself, how could anybody do this his alone without a friend or advocate by their side.

I really appreciated you taking the time to comment on this article and found your honest opinion as to why the current system doesn’t work for you and imagine many other people without a home feel similar too.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do strongly believe the homeless could greatly help solve this challenge if we are willing to listen to their needs instead of allowing a group of paid individuals to sit at meetings and decide what they think is best fir a group of humanity. If you have never experienced the problem personally, how could you possibly understand the system.

Best Wishes to you, friend!

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Avatar retired botanist October 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Tammy, thx for support of my perspective, and of Martinhite’s.
I do understand that its upsetting for a homeowner to see their back or front yard encroached by someone who displays upsetting or disturbing behaviors; but I also ask them to imagine what its like to live never knowing when one might get a call from the Harbor police, or local enforcement, or the ER room that a family member has a problem. Then it instantly becomes the responsibility of the advocate. And, as I said above, so many of our homeless are unsheltered and have no one who takes those calls…
As Barbara Kingsolver said in one of her essays, “These people are the sons [daughters] of someone”.
Walk a block in their shoes either as individuals without advocates, or the shoes of parents, siblings or others who try and advocate for them.
As Lao Tsu said, the three treasures are humility, moderation, and compassion.
We need so much more of that in our society- without those, no amount of vigilantism is going to help either faction, especially those exercising the aggressive tactic. I do have some faith that newer generations, and changing values, may find solutions that will better support our fringe groups; indeed, that the “margins” that create the “marginalized” will eventually dissolve.
And last, for those who encounter street folk, corner buskers, or transients: If you don’t have $, or don’t feel comfortable giving money or food, you’d be amazed at how just a kind word can carry someone thru the day. So roll down your window! Just speak, acknowledge, tell them you can’t afford to give them $, or that you are out of work, too, but you hope their day gets better. You’ll feel better for not avoiding, and chances are they’ll feel better for the actual contact. :-)

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Avatar fishyfish October 4, 2019 at 11:56 am

I’m embarrassed that my fellow OB neighbors would be so cruel to such a vulnerable population. I understand that people are frustrated with crime and trash, but violent vigilantism and intimidation tactics agains the mentally ill and those suffering most from the affordable housing shortage is not the answer. Many of the commenters keep echoing the same talking points about how they just want the “bad” homeless gone, but who are they to determine who is bad and who is not. Have they engaged with the individuals enough to discern who is mentally ill and who is a “troll” (a dehumanizing and disgusting term)? Absolutely not! No, they decide based on rumors and their own hatred who they think is worthy to sleep on our sidewalks. And who suffers the most? It’s not the ones who they claim to target, it’s the minority homeless who will almost certainly be disproportionately targeted due to both implicit and explicit racial bias and using terms like “thugs” (a term with a deep racist history) to justify their actions.

These people deserve our compassion and help, not violent abuse by extrajudicial mobs.

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Avatar Truth!! October 4, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Nice!!! Thank you…this should be how we discuss things. Not how to dismantle and discourage people who need help. I’m so tired of reading the true issues (OB TROLL PATROL)of OB trying to belittle the mentally sick ..regardless if they are on drugs they need help not have there things thrown away causing a possible hostile reaction. I support Brett and he will succeed weeding out these emotionally unstable people from policing our street acting like they are doing us a favor…your ruining OB’s chance to make a difference. OB neighbored watch and Troll Patrol get it together and stop encouraging others to attack and belittle the homeless /mentally sick HUMANS!!

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Avatar triggerfinger October 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm

One person targeted was witnessed stealing and assaulting people at the beach on numerous occasions over a week. Police did not respond.

Another was vandalizing the side of an apartment building in broad daylight. And exposed himself to women.

These are all first hand accounts, not rumor and speculation like you’re practicing. These are the people you’re defending.

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Avatar fishyfish October 5, 2019 at 3:57 pm

I’m sure you have these incidents documented then and can share that with the editors here so they can verify? Or do we just have to take the word for a group who obviously hate the homeless and refer to them as trolls and thugs. There is a reason we have due process and it’s because people will make things up (sometimes without even realizing it) and eye-witness accounts often mis-ID people all the time!

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Avatar Kathleen October 5, 2019 at 7:43 am

Take a vacation from fantasy land for a while. The majority of these people don’t even want your help. Stop fluffing up your ego with your God complex thinking your saving people. Most of them don’t even want “help”. That would mean actually following rules in a structured environment (you know, like a civilized human being). A great number of them are alcoholic or junkies, living off of my tax money, while I have to use the rest of whatever they haven’t taken from my paycheck to pay my rent. Then I get to use part of the very little time I get off of work cleaning up the crap (sometimes literally) they leave behind in my yard. If you people really want them off the streets so bad, bring them into your homes. Or is that a NO, because they’re really just violent drug addicts who will steal all of your possessions? Or, why not just let them camp out in your backyard. I’ll be happy to help you put up signs directing them to your address.

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Avatar retired botanist October 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Kathleen, your comment is depressing. And it sounds like you could use some uplifting yourself. Alcoholism is a disease, in case you didn’t know and thought it was just a poor choice. Frankly, if only your tax dollar was going towards help for these people. Its not. If only your tax dollar was going toward affordable housing for the millions of homeless people in America. Its not.
“You people” is never a good start to constructive discussion.
Sounds more like perhaps you are unhappy with your own life. You’d be amazed at how a change of attitude (which costs nothing) improves not only one’s own quality of life, but the lives of those around you. Try it- its free. :-)

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Avatar MARTINHITE October 7, 2019 at 10:08 pm

I AM SO VERY SORRY FOR THE WEIGHT THAT YOU CARRY, YOU MUST HAVE SOME MISERABLE DAYS! GOOD LUCK WITH THAT,.I HOPE YOU HAVE GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR DREAMS

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Avatar Kathleen October 8, 2019 at 2:14 pm

I actually have a pretty wonderful life, but thanks for the well wishes anyway, I’ll take them. Thanks for the well wishes in finding my dreams. One of which is a cleaned up OB. I wish you luck in finding the caps lock on your keyboard, so you can stop screaming through your computer.

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Avatar retired botanist October 8, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Yeah, wait for it:
couldn’t resist the dig, could you Kathleen? Nevermind, karma has a funny way of finding its spot when one least expects it…

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Avatar Kathleen October 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Karma has been great to me as I’m the nicest person anyone I’ve met knows. I frequently get told I’ve never been seen not smiling. As for why karma is my friend is because I never let down a friend and have over 100 hours of volunteer work (not court ordered like many). I do plenty to help those in need. Just not the entitled ones unwilling to help themselves. A hand up not a hand out. And definitely not to some aggressive young doped up punk like the ones overtaking OB. Go ahead and keep wishing me I’ll though just because we disagree.

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Avatar retired botanist October 8, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Aah then, just your friends? I guess that’s a start, should I pile on the kudos you’ve seemingly already given yourself? You’ll not read any justification or endorsement from me for your bigoted words and attitudes towards those less fortunate than yourself. Sure sounds like a hard heart-not to be confused w/ ‘tough love’- that you’re carrying.
And you think others of us have “God complex”? Hahaha. You mean “Holier than thou?” Look inward.
“Entitled ones” ? Hmm, that’s a strange choice of words given the subset you so vehemently dislike.

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Avatar Martinhite October 8, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Ya, I’m not so computer savvy but I can sure see a great weight being dragged around,be safe and be well.

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Avatar Molly cook October 5, 2019 at 8:40 am

I spent a lot of time at OB before I left San Diego and saw my share of the homeless. But I also saw my share of entitled residents who seem to think living by the beach means you can stop behaving with grace and compassion. In San Diego money talks and it doesnt say pleasant things. I now live in another even hipper state where homelessness is also on the table but so far no neighborhood vigilantes…just a lot of folks who want to help. Have any of your vigilantes offered jobs to any of the homeless? I didn’t think so.

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Avatar Chris October 5, 2019 at 10:30 am

I’m posting this everywhere …smarter thinking not aggressively pushing them around!!

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Avatar Martinhite October 7, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Chris,this is info that should be spread!!?

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Avatar Voodoo Trucker October 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Editor: Here’s another example of someone with too much MAGA time on their hands: “One Patriot’s TRUTH is another Hippy Dirtbag’s hate… especially The Truly Non LOKAL GREMMIE Poseurs, Kooks and Criminal Trolls ??”

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Avatar Voodoo Trucker October 5, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Editor: Here’s another example from Trucker Voodoo: “Surfers and Greasers Real OB not this Post Modern Post Apocalyptic Mad Max meets Manson Youth Troll chit ??”

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm

The OB Rag is now being harassed by somebody called Trucker Voodoo; I’ve warned the person (unless it’s a Russian bot or agent) that if they keep it up, we’ll have to call them out.

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Avatar MARTINHITE October 7, 2019 at 11:03 pm

I WAS HOMELESS IN O.B. FOR A MINUTE,I DID SCULPTURE FOR TIPS …
I DIDN’T ROB ANYONE
I DIDN’T ASSAULT ANYONE
I DIDN’T COME TO O.B. “HIGH
I DIDN’T LEAVE O.B. “HIGH”
I DIDN’T DRIVE DRUNK
I DIDN’T KILL ANYONE
I DIDN’T RAPE ANYONE
I BURGLARIZE ANYONE’S HOME
I DIDN’T CRAP IN SOME YARD
I DIDN’T PISS ON ANYONE’S CAR
I DON’T BELIEVE I WAS INVOLVED IN ANY NEFARIOUS DEEDS
I DIDN’T STEAL FROM ANY STORES
I DIDN’T DO ANY OF THAT KIND OF STUFF
BUT YOU FORMED A GROUP OF PEOPLE TO COME AND “MOVE ME ALONG”
TO TELL ME I CANT SIT ON THE SIDEWALK
TO TELL ME I CANT “JUST STAND ” ANYWHERE?
SO I CAN COME TO O.B. TO DO SCULPTURE
BUT I CANT STAND IN THE PARKING LOT
AND TALK ABOUT IT AFTER DARK?
AND I STILL HAD A LARGE BACKPACK
I TAKE EVERYWHERE I GO, I MEAN EVERYWHERE
MAYBE YOU GUYS SHOULD PUT THE RULES ON A SIGN AT THE EDGE
OF TOWN
PERSONALLY I THINK IT WOULD BE KINDA FUN TO RUN INTO THIS
“TROLLANAL” GROUP
I’M JUST AN ARTIST WITH MENTAL ISSUES
I’M NOT ALL THOSE PEOPLE YOU DESCRIBE
I KINDA RESENT THAT YOU LUMP ME TOGETHER
WITH ALL THESE THUGS AND KILLERS AND DRUGGIES
I THINK YOU LIKE MINDED GOOD PEOPLE OF O.B.
HAVE CROSSED A LINE HERE
I PERSONNELY WILL NEVER UNDER ANY CURCUMSTANCE
REARRANGE SAND IN OCEAN BEACH CA,
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR LITTLE “F” TROOP BUT
IT WONT WORK, I KNOW BECAUSE I’VE SEEN THIS PLAY BEFORE.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Please refrain from writing in all caps.

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Avatar Martinhite October 8, 2019 at 3:18 pm

sorry about that, I think I’m fixed

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Avatar Cassy Anders October 9, 2019 at 9:32 am

I will be Frank (sorry Frank)!
The homeless have RUINED my beautiful OB, ignore them, don’t help them in any way, fashion or form, they are by choice drug addicts, alkies, and refuse help, they piss, shit, fornicate without any consideration to anyone. Horrible, imagine waking up every morning to retrieve your newspaper and finding a #2 on your sidewalk in front of your house.

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