San Diego’s Crisis of Compassion: Scorn and Indifference Do Not Solve Homelessness

May 6, 2016 by Source

By Jeeni Criscenzo / San Diego Free Press

homeless familyIt doesn’t take the recently released Point in Time Count report to know that the number of unsheltered people in downtown San Diego is exploding.

Seeing every vacant lot encircled with blue tent and tarp encampments propped against chain-link fencing has ceased to evoke alarm. It’s now the norm.

The fact that we have become so accustomed to seeing human beings huddled in these makeshift shelters is a pathetic indictment of our city’s dismal failure to solve our housing problem.

Read the full article → 4 comments

Is Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego an Oxymoron? – Part 3

May 5, 2016 by John Lawrence

The City Needs to Build and Own More Affordable Units

SD Housing CommissionBy Katheryn Rhodes and John Lawrence

According to a recent Zillow report: “Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego are unaffordable for both renters and buyers. … Looking forward, the picture doesn’t look bright for renters.

Rents will likely keep rising at roughly their current pace for at least the next few years, which will lead to a continued affordability crunch unless wage growth significantly improves.”

Enter the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) whose job is to redress the balance of unaffordable rents to make it possible for San Diego to be inhabited by other than rich folks.

Read the full article → 5 comments

The 2016 Mayoral Contest: Lori Saldaña Aims to Offer a Choice, Not an Echo

April 29, 2016 by Doug Porter

Lori Saldana official picBy Doug Porter

If you buy into the notion, currently in vogue with supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, of Democratic party orthodoxy as being little more than Republican lite, then Lori Saldaña would the logical choice to vote for in the upcoming San Diego mayoral primary.

The former assemblywoman has an activist pedigree, a history of hard-fought grassroots campaigns, and the enmity of the local political establishment.

In January Saldaña launched an independent campaign to challenge Kevin Faulconer, undaunted by a million dollar war chest (including PACs) and the advantages accompanying incumbency in America’s Finest City. The current mayor’s single greatest accomplishment thus far, in my opinion, has been directing the public relations players at his disposal in a non-stop symphony of praise for their leader, so it ain’t gonna be easy.

Environmental Activism, Plus

Read the full article → 0 comments

San Diego Homeless Advocates Rock the City Council

April 29, 2016 by Source

Screenshot of Channel 8 video on San Diego using rocks to drive away homeless

Anatomy of a Successful Press Event in Protest of City Placement of Rocks to Displace Homeless

By Jeeni Criscenzo

Some days I marvel at the value of the network of good people that has grown in our community—people involved in so many different areas, all so critical, who come together to support one another in our various efforts. Without that, we could have never pulled off the very successful action on Tuesday April 19 in protest of the City’s reprehensible decision to fill an underpass in Sherman Heights where homeless people take shelter with rocks.


This was a case where all systems were running at peak performance. For the sake of all of those younger people who are just starting to dip their toes in the art of community organizing, here’s how it goes when you have a cadre of like-minded friends to call upon for a cause.

Read the full article → 1 comment

“This Mayor Has Got to Go!” Faulconer Opponents Say at Town Council Debate

April 28, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for “This Mayor Has Got to Go!” Faulconer Opponents Say at Town Council Debate

Mayor Kevin Faulconer wasn’t too popular at last night’s Ocean Beach Town Council meeting during the “mayoral dialogue”.

First, he didn’t show.

Second, both his opponents, former-Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, and San Diego Lifeguard leader Ed Harris, trained their sights on Faulconer and not on each other.

And third, this was Ocean Beach – the liberal bastion of the city – which usually votes Democratic; Kevin Faulconer is a Republican.

But still, Faulconer used to represent Ocean Beach – and the rest of District 2 – when he sat on the City Council. And the crowd of the 80 or so good-natured souls in attendance probably would have applauded him if he had showed. But he didn’t and neither did his aide, John Ly.

Read the full article → 14 comments

Is Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego an Oxymoron? Part 2

April 27, 2016 by John Lawrence

Homeless Population Under-counted

homeless familyBy Katheryn Rhodes and John Lawrence

The 8700 people identified by the Point-In-Time-Count are not anywhere close to the total number of homeless people in San Diego City and County. They didn’t count all the people sleeping in their cars nor the many that are staying with friends or couch surfing.

Nor did they count the many that sleep “off the beaten track” in the many hidden gullies and the river bed. Nor did it count all those who slept in places unlikely to be found by the volunteers who did the counting who, after all, could not be expected to expose themselves to dangerous situations and environments.

Read the full article → 1 comment

Is Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego an Oxymoron? Part 1

April 20, 2016 by John Lawrence

Has the City squirreled away millions of dollars in off-budget funds which could be used for affordable housing and housing for the homeless?

afordable housing coverBy Katheryn Rhodes and John Lawrence

In the City of Palo Alto, if you make less than $250,000 a year, you’re eligible for a housing subsidy. The city council has voted to study a housing proposal that would essentially subsidize new housing for what qualifies as middle-class nowadays, families making from $150,000 to $250,000 a year.

Here in San Diego, the situation is not much better as teachers, police and government workers cannot afford to live in the city they work in. So if middle class, college educated professionals can’t afford to live here, how can anyone else lower on the economic ladder afford to live here either? In particular, those on the bottom most rung, the homeless, can’t even afford a foot in the door.

Read the full article → 4 comments

Is It All Coming Together?

April 18, 2016 by Source
Thumbnail image for Is It All Coming Together?

By Jeeni Criscenzo

Is it all coming together,
or all falling apart?
I can’t tell anymore.
I came with love,
but can’t find your heart.

I tried to explain how we could help get people off their streets,
by providing basic shelter in supportive communities.
We’d carefully thought out the plan,
Laid it out for them in ways they could understand,
how this would make life better for everyone.

But they came armed with one practiced phrase:
“Not in my backyard!”

Can it all come together?
Or is it already falling apart?
It’s impossible to tell
When we say we want peace,
but we’re fighting an uphill battle from the start.

Read the full article → 3 comments

Housed to Homeless in San Diego: Could It Happen to You?

April 11, 2016 by Anna Daniels

By Anna Daniels / San Diego Free Press

homeless make devilQuick— imagine a homeless person.

Did you conjure up the image of an utterly ordinary looking seventy year old white woman attending classes at SDSU? or a neatly dressed young Latino waiting at a bus stop? or a pregnant African American woman passing by your house? or a neighborhood kid who disappears and reappears and seems disconnected, rootless?

We don’t hear much about these men and women, young and old, who are homeless. Instead, we read about the uptrodden who have to deal with homeless people crapping on the sidewalk in front of their expensive condos downtown or the bad optics and shabby aesthetics of the tents and battered pieces of cardboard where the homeless visibly bed down every night, also downtown.

Read the full article → 1 comment

San Diego’s Old Central Library: Public Benefit or Profit Center?

April 4, 2016 by Source

Former San Diego Central Library

A not-so-common idea for a building that belongs to us

By Jeeni Criscenzo

For three years, 150,000 square feet of space in downtown, belonging to the citizens of San Diego, has stood vacant. Each night, for these past three years, impoverished human beings have spread their cardboard beds on the brass inlays of the terrazzo at the entrance of the old Central Library on E Street.

But any suggestion that this place could provide shelter for homeless people is dead on arrival, so I won’t be wasting words on that idea. But I do think we need to come up with a fair and just use of this building that retains the spirit of its original reason for being built. After all, it belongs to us, if we are willing to fight for it and put a little imagination into its transformation.

Read the full article → 1 comment

News From Around Ocean Beach and Point Loma – Mid March 2016

March 17, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for News From Around Ocean Beach and Point Loma – Mid March 2016

* Some Police Cameras Installed
* March 19th – Friends of OB Library Book and Yard Sale – Donations Needed
* Wife of Drowning Victim in OB Asks “What Was He Thinking?”
* Hess Brewery Dinged by Lack of Parking Citation
* Point Loma High Players and Fans Left in the Dark
* OB Elementary Principal to Kiss a Pig
* No Good Leads in Parrots Killings – Issue to Be Addressed at OB Town Council Meet
* New Construction Fence Around Former Doctors’ Offices – the Future “OB Plaza”
* OB Chili Cook-Off Contestants Needed
* Chapter One Tattoo Parlor Opens
* Hookah Parlor Closes
* Dog Lost at Sea Returned to San Diego Owner 5 Weeks Later
* Two Local Women Beaten Up by Female Traveler
* OB Picked as “Best” Neighborhood of a Large City

Read the full article → 12 comments

Reader’s View: Here’s the Schedule of Gates of New Fence Around Cabrillo Recreation Center in Point Loma

March 9, 2016 by Source
Thumbnail image for Reader’s View: Here’s the Schedule of Gates of New Fence Around Cabrillo Recreation Center in Point Loma

By Korla Eaquinta

The new fence around Cabrillo Recreation Center is finished. The community has been concerned about access as the gates have been locked up most of the time.

The following is an email from Alvin Nguyen, Center Director detailing the new procedure for the field to be accessible. (Please note that no one is allowed to be on school grounds nor on the field at the Rec center during school hours.)

Starting March 1, 2016, we will be following the procedure according to the above Cabrillo Gates Map.

I have listed a breakdown of the procedure below for your convenience:

Read the full article → 1 comment

Homeless Evicted By San Diego Police Just as Major El Niño Storm Approaches

March 7, 2016 by Doug Porter

clean up 1

You have to wonder what they were thinking in city hall. On Monday morning the police department conducted a sweep of sidewalk homeless encampments as a major winter storm bore down on San Diego.

A severe thunderstorm warning for the entire San Diego County coastline was issued as the second in a series of El Niño storms swept through the region. The promise of below-normal temperatures combined with driving rain and gusty winds meant being outside was going to be a miserable experience.

Read the full article → 5 comments

Reader Rant: “I am tired of the media painting OB as a solitary den of homelessness.”

March 4, 2016 by Source
Thumbnail image for Reader Rant: “I am tired of the media painting OB as a solitary den of homelessness.”

By Geoff Page:

On Wednesday, March 2nd, OB Dude’s comment on the Rag’s camera story alerted me to a Channel 10 News story about transient-set fires in Ocean Beach. Here is the link posted to the story:

If you look at the video, you can see a four lane road with a median and an overpass. The only place this could be is Nimitz Blvd. and the overpass is Famosa Blvd. There is no overpass within the boundaries of Ocean Beach, this area is Point Loma.

Read the full article → 16 comments

Chargers Say They’ll Fund Their Own Stadium Downtown (Sort of)

February 25, 2016 by Doug Porter

SD Convention CenterOh, to have been a fly on the wall at city hall as the local football franchise went public with a ‘no thanks’ to the officially blessed plan of building a stadium in Mission Valley.

Once again the mayor and his minions have been left out in the cold.Last time they were spurned for an alliance with the Raiders to build a facility in Carson. This time it’s even worse, as the Chargers have thrown their support to a political coalition including the ne’er-do-well Cory Briggs.

In making this move the Chargers have rejected $350 million in city and county support –and the strings that came with it– saying they would get their own financing.

How’d they do that? Well, it’s complicated.

Read the full article → 2 comments

ACLU and 26 Groups Call on Justice Department to Investigate San Diego Police Use of Force on Mentally Unstable People

February 18, 2016 by Staff

acluThe ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, along with 26 civil rights, social service organizations, and law firms on February 17th asked the Federal government for an investigation into the SDPD’s use of force when encountering people living with mental illness.

An inquiry by the ACLU, following the police shooting of a mentally ill man holding a pen, and the district attorney’s decision not to press charges against the officer, revealed what they believe was a disturbing pattern and practice of improperly handling incidents with people with mental illness or who are experiencing a mental health crisis by SDPD personnel.

Read the full article → 1 comment

The Face of Homelessness in San Diego – Part 2

February 17, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Dodge Mobile travelerI met Suzie at Panera Bread in Liberty Station. She is homeless but not vehicle-less. She used to have a nice home in Point Loma, had lived in the Point Loma – Ocean Beach area for years.

She has been homeless since last April when her boyfriend kicked her out of his apartment. When that happened, she got on Craigslist and bought an RV.

There are many levels and degrees of homelessness, and Suzie is on one of the better off levels. Some homeless persons live on boats in the harbor. So for some, homelessness verges on an alternative lifestyle, the key being whether or not they are forced into the situation or whether their situation is freely chosen.

Read the full article → 14 comments

In a Tiny House Village, Portland’s Homeless Find Dignity

February 12, 2016 by Source

As cities search for solutions to homelessness, Portland’s Dignity Village offers 60 men and women community and safety.

Katie Mays, the site's social worker, stands next to villager Rick Proudfoot in front of his house.Photo: Paul DunnKatie Mays, the site’s social worker, stands next to villager Rick Proudfoot in front of his house. Photo: Paul Dunn

By Marcus Harrison Green / Yes! Magazine

On a frigid January morning in Portland, Ore., a tour through Dignity Village follows the same path its residents are required to travel. All were, or are, homeless.

Read the full article → 2 comments

Tiny Village of Tiny Shelters for San Diego Homeless: Small is the New Sexy

February 5, 2016 by Source

Danielles Tiny HomeBy Jeeni Criscenzo

No question about it—being involved in a coalition to build a tiny village of tiny shelters for people who are without a place to live, is damn exciting!

I can’t put my finger on exactly why this is taking over my brain activity—from waking up in the morning ready to get online and share ideas, to dreaming about it at night.

Maybe it’s what someone at our community meeting last week said about it—tiny homes are sexy!

Read the full article → 2 comments

The Face of Homelessness in San Diego

February 3, 2016 by John Lawrence

San Diego Has the Fourth Highest Number of Homeless in the US and that Doesn’t Even Count Most Homeless Families

homeless familyBy John Lawrence

I met a homeless woman at a coffee shop in downtown San Diego. She had emailed me to correct a few points in a previous article I had written about the homeless. Her name is Jingles, not her real name, of course.

That’s the name she goes by downtown. She’s tough, savvy, intelligent, resourceful, wise to the ways of the street. She is 55 years old with several health related problems and three small dogs.

Read the full article → 6 comments

Living and Working In Poverty in San Diego : Excerpt From “Sunshine/Noir II”

January 28, 2016 by Source

homeless photo Photo by quinntheislander (Pixabay)

Grim Reality in “America’s Finest City”

By Susan Duerksen

“Living in poverty” is one of those shorthand terms that rolls easily off the tongues of news anchors and politicians before they turn to the next topic. We all tend to glaze over the full meaning of the phrase, the grinding day-to-day misery of hunger, worry, discomfort, exhaustion, and despair.

In the city of San Diego, the proportion and number of people living in poverty edged up in 2013. It should have gone down. Instead, 7,000 more people in the city live in poverty now, in addition to the 202,000 who remain in that dire situation from the previous year.

Read the full article → 0 comments

Emergency Shelter in San Diego: Getting Beyond the Game of ‘Mother May I’

January 25, 2016 by Source

By Jeeni Criscenzo / San Diego Free Press

shelter spotBack when I was a kid, about a billion years ago, all the kids in the neighborhood would hang out after school until it got dark, or we got hungry, playing games like tag and Hide-and-Seek with the entire neighborhood for our playground.

We didn’t get in trouble or kidnapped … (well there was the time 5-year-old Johnny Pappa disappeared and everyone in the neighborhood was out looking for him well past bed-time, until his brother found him sleeping UNDER his bed).

One game we played was “Mother, May I?”.

Read the full article → 0 comments

Emergency Shelter for San Diego’s Most Vulnerable

January 18, 2016 by Source

homeless children Screen shot: KPBS Homeless Babies and Toddlers Endure Tough Long Days on San Diego Streets (video)

By Jeeni Criscenzo / San Diego Free Press

Using school data, we can prove that close to 10,000 families in San Diego County are homeless and are not included in the Point-in-Time Count (PITC) that is conducted every year throughout the country to determine how to allocate HUD funds for homelessness programs.

[C]lose to 10,000 families in San Diego County are homeless and are not included in the Point-in-Time Count [used] … to determine how to allocate HUD funds for homelessness programs.

Read the full article → 2 comments

European Refugees Are Better Off than San Diego’s Homeless

January 13, 2016 by John Lawrence

calais jungleBy John Lawrence

Amy Goodman did a recent show about the refugees living in a camp in Calais, France. She walked around the camp interviewing several refugees all of whom spoke good English.

Most of these people were sleeping in tents similar to the ones you see on the sidewalks of San Diego. Some had built simple structures.

As she walked around, I began to notice some facilities that they had there which are nowhere to be found for the San Diego homeless. First I noticed a dumpster. There’s no dumpster for San Diego’s homeless. The trash just gets left on the street.

Read the full article → 6 comments

Craig Miller Died on Christmas Day in Ocean Beach

January 12, 2016 by Source
Thumbnail image for Craig Miller Died on Christmas Day in Ocean Beach

By Vera Sanchez and Sunny Rey

December 25th, 2015 is the day we found Craig Miller dead. Most people celebrate Christmas by unwrapping surprises, with the smell of coffee, the sound of giggles, and the warmth of a crowded house. We were just two volunteers wanting to pass out sleeping bags; the season slump was to be uplifted in the streets of Ocean Beach.

An organization, The Urban Street Angels, had a goal of reaching 800 local homeless in the community by gifting them with newly donated sleeping bags. As fate would have it, we received an outdated flyer with an old starting time of the event, consequently arriving two hours late to an event that had longed past.

Read the full article → 9 comments

San Diego Police Impound Tiny Shelter, Arrest Homeless Man

January 11, 2016 by Source

Red And Lisa With Shelter

A wooden box is not a home…but…

Originally posted at San Diego Free Press on January 7, 2016.

By Jeeni Criscenzo

Part three of the quartet of storms pounding San Diego is in full force as I sit here at my computer. The alert goes off on my phone signaling a flash flood warning. The shade cloth over my neighbor’s garden has disengaged itself from two of the poles securing it to earth and is preparing for takeoff.

Peering out the rain-whipped, sliding-glass doors that safely separate me from the deluge outside on my patio,

Read the full article → 2 comments

HUD Bureaucrats to San Diego’s Homeless Service Providers: ‘My Way or the Highway’

December 18, 2015 by Source

homeless womanBy Jeeni Criscenzo

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently came out with a 55-page document titled:

Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing: Defining “Chronically Homeless.

I can only imagine the thousands of dollars spent to clarify that: agencies receiving HUD funds to serve chronically homeless people cannot use those funds for persons or households if any of the periods separating the requisite “4 separate occasions in the past 3 years” where they were homeless (according to the HUD definition of homeless) were less than 7 nights.

If that sounds convoluted to you, imagine being an underpaid, intake staff person at an underfunded homeless service agency, interviewing a homeless client to determine if they can accept him or her into the program without jeopardizing their HUD funding.

Read the full article → 0 comments

San Diego’s Hidden Homeless

November 23, 2015 by Source

Homeless women and children undercounted and underserved.

By Jeeni Criscenzo / San Diego Free Press

homeless kidsIt looks like the issue of homelessness will be getting some airtime during the 2016 election season in San Diego. That should be good news for anyone who is deeply concerned about homelessness in the region. Problem is that some candidates might use the issue to put forth solutions, without taking the time to understand the problem.

By feeding the electorate with misinformation that plays into their eagerness for a quick and easy fix to the city’s growing homeless situation, they will not only fail to solve the problem, they will exacerbate it.

Read the full article → 1 comment

Back to Homeless and Hopeless in San Diego

September 11, 2015 by Source

homelesswomenvets-300x137By Jeeni Criscenzo / San Diego Free Press

A week ago, I was sitting in the Denny’s across the street from Howard Johnsons in Chula Vista, waiting for Tracy (name changed), an Army veteran Amikas had been assisting for almost a year.

The good news was that Amikas, a non-profit that I started five years ago to help homeless women and children, was going to cover the next five days at the hotel for Tracy and her three children. But I wasn’t looking forward to this conversation – where this family would go after those five days was anybody’s guess.

Read the full article → 1 comment

City Targets Orchard Cave for Emergency Slope Repairs – Still a Month Away

September 3, 2015 by Frank Gormlie

OB Orchard Cave SDMemo1-edA memorandum – or actually, a Notice – was made available last night at the OB Planning Board meeting that indicates the City of San Diego is ready to move on the dangerous Orchard Cave, as it is now set to enact “emergency slope repairs” at the site in OB.

Actual repairs, however, are a month away, the Councilwoman Zapf representative estimated at the meeting.

This is the same cave in dangerous condition investigated by the OB Rag earlier this week – where it appears people are living – .

Read the full article → 4 comments