District 2 Candidates on Homelessness in San Diego

by on April 12, 2022 · 7 comments

in Election, Homelessness, Ocean Beach

The San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board sent a 10-question survey to the five viable candidates in the San Diego City Council District 2 race. Here, staff of the OB Rag have separated out their responses based on the subject matter or issue — to be viewed “side-by-side.”

Q: How do you plan to address homelessness at the beginning of your four-year term? What will homelessness in San Diego look like at the end of your term?

Jen Campbell:

As a physician, I know homelessness is, for many, primarily a health problem, and the causes for each person’s struggles on the street need to be addressed with treatment and care that’s coupled with secure housing.

Mental health care is health care and I’ve pushed to make that a core part of the city’s homelessness response since my first day on the City Council.

Like most San Diegans, I’m frustrated by how persistent our homelessness problems are, but we’re starting to see signs of real progress that come from changing our approach from short-term enforcement to long-term health care, housing and treatment.

We have housed thousands, but need to do much more, including preventing homelessness in the first place. This requires a focus on getting at the roots of the problems — mental illness, drug addiction, as well as poverty. It’s what I learned early on in medical school: Diagnose and cure the actual problem, don’t just relieve the symptoms.

I fought hard to expand the city’s safe parking program, and that’s made a real difference with nearly half of those participating finding permanent housing within six months. But we need more supportive housing of all kinds so that when people experiencing homelessness get off the street, it’s not a temporary fix, but a transformative moment that gets them the help they need, whether that’s medical help for substance addiction, mental health or both.

Joel Day:

I have published a comprehensive plan for addressing homelessness.

In the short term, the city should immediately get people off the streets. “Safe Campsites” in centralized locations, like in San Francisco and Denver, is a harm-reduction approach that moves folks from streets to coordinated, safe camping locations. By co-locating services, outreach and health care resources, combined with a low barrier alternative to a sidewalk, we meet the crisis with action.

In the medium term, San Diego needs to get serious about housing as many people as possible, as fast as possible. To do this, we should stand up a block-leasing program, under which the city could lease thousands of units to get them quickly into the housing pipeline. These could be existing hotels, apartments or converted vacant commercial spaces. The benefits include eliminating barriers like credit worthiness, job stability or security deposits, while creating a supply of units to rapidly re-house people. Master-leasing is working in Bakersfield, the first California city to achieve “functional-zero” chronic homelessness. Why have our leaders not tried this model here?

Over the long-term, we need deeply affordable homes. It’s time to leverage serious public resources and build high-quality, mixed income “Social Housing.” Social Housing creates non-market rate housing through large-scale government enterprise, which stabilized housing costs in cities like Helsinki, Finland, which has eliminated homelessness.

At the end of my term, we will achieve functional zero rough-sleeping, thousands of currently homeless will be in city master-leased units, and deeply-affordable housing units will be under construction.

Mandy Havlik:

Homelessness is not going away in four years, regardless of who gets elected to City Council. It is going to take a lot of compassion, time, resources and investments into adequately funding homelessness services and support. If this were an easy issue to fix, our City Council would have fixed it years ago.

Instead, City Hall has built a wonderful bureaucracy to count homeless people in our community so that our city receives federal and state grants but does not do anything to actually help homeless people or get them off the streets.

I want to try a different approach. I want to get homeless people off the streets and into temporary housing with no strings attached and provide them with much-needed services. I will have social agencies partner with local non-governmental organization homeless agencies and advocates to help homeless people transition from living on the streets to temporary housing and into long-term permanent housing solutions.

Our city is not doing a good enough job partnering with community non-governmental organizations that are on the streets every day helping homeless people.

“Housing First” is a proven approach, applicable across all elements of systems for ending homelessness, in which people experiencing homelessness are connected to permanent housing swiftly and with few to no treatment preconditions, behavioral contingencies or other barriers.

It is based on overwhelming evidence that people experiencing homelessness can achieve stability in permanent housing if provided with the appropriate level of services. Study after study has shown that Housing First yields higher housing retention rates, drives significant reductions in the use of costly crisis services and institutions, and helps people achieve better health and social outcomes.

Clearly, moving a homeless encampment from one side of Sports Arena Boulevard to the other, bleaching the pavement and telling people to move back is not the answer.

We need to quit holding the purse strings so tightly at the city level and get the funding received from the state and federal governments into non-governmental organizations that are educated, equipped and staffed with people who care.

The city wants to address homelessness in a bureaucratic one size fits all approach that has not worked in the past, and we need to find new ways to solve this humanitarian crisis other than what we have been doing.

Lori Saldana:

Apply for every available state and federal grant that will help us retrofit and convert older hotels and office buildings into housing. Build more supportive housing (not tent shelters) on surplus public property. Expand partnerships with PATH and similar agencies to provide wraparound services and health-care providers on site for those transitioning out of homelessness. San Diego will have more supportive housing, and more staff dedicated to preventing people from falling into homelessness or housing insecurity.

We won’t continue criminalizing unsheltered San Diegans and instead will invest in increasing our capacity to provide them with recuperative care, and help them transition into homes with services that meet their medical and behavioral health needs. An excellent example of this model is the Zephyr housing complex for veterans in Grantville, near the trolley station.

Linda Lukas

As we’ve seen, this is an incredibly complex, multifactorial and challenging problem that has not been easy to solve. This is tragically true in so much of our world. Developing long-term plans for addressing root causes of the homelessness problem, rather than short-term, temporary solutions, are fundamental if we hope to solve this problem. This requires researching options, reviewing existing programs that are working around the globe, comparing success rates and researching and ultimately securing creative and realistic options for funding.

By the end of the four-year term, I would anticipate that a formal, well-designed plan would be approved, the first site identified with rehabilitation plans underway. Participating programs ideally will have been secured, and long-term budget options, which can reasonably be expected to sustain the campus, will have been established.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tessa April 12, 2022 at 12:07 pm

After reading extensively – interviews, CVs, etc., I am so far leaning toward Lori Saldana, who seems to have perspective, experience, honesty going for her. While all candidates acknowledge the problem, her range of vision seems not only the broadest but the most forward thinking. Plus, she knows how to accesss grant money.


Geoff Page April 12, 2022 at 12:18 pm

I had missed the lone Republican running for the seat so I went back to The Rag article profiling the candidates. Then, I went searching for her on-line. I could not find anything. She has lived in San Diego for 27 years so something should have come up. I wonder if she is running under a different name than usual such as a maiden name or a new married name. Anyone know something about her?


Frank Gormlie April 13, 2022 at 11:56 am

It’s funny that Campbell begins her response with : “As a physician …”; she’s not; she’s retired but with the stethoscope around her neck, she looks impressive. Let’s be clear – she was MIA during the entire pandemic; she was not seen and never on the front lines of our health crisis.


kh April 13, 2022 at 4:31 pm

She has/had a license for general practice but I believe the brunt of her “medical” experience is in alternative medicine, accupuncture, ie, using sharp objects to cause her clients/contituents discomfort.


Frank Gormlie April 13, 2022 at 4:40 pm

If I had been drinking something, it would have spilled.


kh April 13, 2022 at 4:32 pm

“Jennifer Campbell, MD, is a 1980 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Board
Certified in both Family Practice and Holistic Medicine. She practiced and taught clinical medicine for twentyfive years before moving to San Diego this year. She is a graduate of the UCLA Medical School Acupuncture for
Physicians Course and has practiced acupuncture for the last six years. Integrating acupuncture with Western
Medicine is her current focus, so joining the integrative doctoral faculty at PCOM is a perfect fit. Dr. Campbell
provides biomedical supervision in the Family medicine doctoral clinic.”

source: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/sites/default/files/Catalog_DAOM_2014-2015_complete.pdf


Mike conner's April 13, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Saldana will get my vote! I am homeless by choice, I just don’t like living confined in 4 walls, enjoy my outdoor living, I don’t drink, don’t do dope, don’t commit crimes, I have med-cal, I can easily live of my $221/check general relief each month, no complaints here, I don’t bother anyone, YMCA for showers and exercise, and I don’t go hungry.
God Bless


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