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San Diego City Council Declares Emergency Over Lack Of Homeless Shelter Space

October 3, 2017 1:26 p.m.

San Diego City Council Declares Emergency Over Lack Of Homeless Shelter Space


Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS

Related Story: San Diego City Council Declares Emergency Over Lack Of Homeless Shelter Space


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

On Monday the city of San Diego declared a homeless shelter crisis, even though a similar crisis declaration is already in place. Yesterday's 8-0 vote is meant to strengthen the existing legislation. Here to tell us what the city helps to accomplish declaring this new shelter crisis is Andrew Bolan. Welcome. If there a difference between the two crisis declarations?Legally, no. Both use the same government code. What is different about yesterday's declaration is only the statement of findings. It has new data from this year's homeless this point in time count, which found there is more street homeless this now. Also data on the hepatitis A outbreak. Despite that, there is no real authority the city has now that he did not have.With crisis shelter declaration, what is the legal authority?It allows the city to suspend certain health and safety code on properties that are owned, leased, or operated by the city government. Instead it can use alternative standards when establishing emergency shelters. Even without a crisis declaration the city could still convert it's all facilities into emergency homeless shelters, this just makes it a little easier.Was there discussion of exactly how many new shelter beds the city needs to accommodate the homeless population?I cannot recall councilmembers talking about specific numbers, but the latest point in time count that took place earlier this year found just over 5600 homeless people in the city of San Diego. The utilization of the existing shelters is fairly high, ranging from 80-100%. More than half of those homeless people are un-sheltered. Just to get the people off the streets that are currently living there the city with me more than 3000 new shelters. The city would need more than 3000 new shelter bath, that does not take into account the people who are living on the edge and maybe dangerously close to homelessness. He asks the mayor to comment on those things.Does the mayor support the updated crisis declaration?Yes. And he was there to voice his support. A little bit of background, calls for this crisis declaration came from David Alvarez. He heard the crisis and now we have to do something.What type of discussion took place over the hepatitis A outbreak?We heard a lot of frustration. The county has about $2 billion in reserves, some of that money is not all that easy to spend or appropriate, but a lot of it is. Several councilmembers says the county has to do more to help.People can put their garbage in, they were moved that? I don't know who made that decision. We have porta potty's all around. The city has only done what it needs to do, I think, to coil the rise of protest and people about this.Dennis, a lot of this documentary is promoted to promoting housing first. To try to get homeless people into permanent supportive housing. Here in San Diego the city shelters were close to get people into permanent housing before there was enough housing available, do you think that has contributed to the current hepatitis A outbreak?People living on the streets without access to showers and such certainly would. I asked the folks in Houston, there is an idea for an intake center and more shelters. In Houston you guys, what you think about that. Otherwise you are diverting resources. Therefore you are leaving people on the streets longer. It is more humane to get them the permanent housing as quickly as possible instead of diverting resources to shelters. I understand with the hepatitis A outbreak some shelters are necessary. May be more handwashing stations or showers.City leaders say temporary shelters will be opening up starting in December, what do you think?I think it is good and that I will probably take advantage of that. I am really fearful that will get homeless people out of the I got the general public and the general public will think the problem is solved and it won't be. It will just be intense and the problem will be hidden. Where we really need to focus our resources are on housing.