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Study: San Ysidro Residents Concerned Over Drug, Alcohol Use During Pandemic

COVID-19 testing signs are placed at the PedEast crossing in San Ysidro, Augu...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: COVID-19 testing signs are placed at the PedEast crossing in San Ysidro, August 12, 2020.

San Ysidro residents in a survey said they are concerned about alcohol- and drug-related issues in their neighborhood since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a non-profit organization announced Monday.

According to a news release, the survey was conducted by The Institute for Public Strategies (IPS) South Bay. Residents listed concerns including drug use, underage drinking, public drunkenness and drug dealing.

The IPS conducted the survey in October to collect feedback from those living in five apartment communities in San Ysidro: Villas Primaveras, Villa Nueva, Sycamore West, East and North, Beyer Courtyards and Vista Terrace Hills.

IPS is funded by San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency.

According to IPS, the goal is to build an equity-focused multi-sector community-led coalition to promote safer housing policies and practices.

More than 200 responses were collected for the survey, which found:

• 85% of the respondents said they felt only somewhat safe while home alone at night, while 15% felt very safe;

• 4% said they felt very safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night, 66% responded somewhat safe and 22% not safe at all, and;

• 90% would support policies requiring managers of multi-unit properties to prohibit crime on their properties.

On topics related to COVID-19, the survey found:

• 88% of the respondents said they were either somewhat or very concerned about accessing mental health and substance use disorder resources and services;

• 93% were concerned with accessing health care, and;

• 80% said they were aware of increased substance use by youth during the pandemic.

In the survey's comments section, one respondent wrote: "I have lived here for over 23 years and have seen many developments that are good. But lately, especially during this epidemic, the drug use and drinking with young children has increased enormously."

Another person wrote: "I have only lived here for seven months, but I do notice that there's a lot of empty alcohol containers near the parking areas in the morning when I go to work."

A third respondent commented that in small stores "the liquor sales are very heavy, and people are buying cheap beer and wine. My son, who is underage, somehow gets liquor."

IPS South Bay is working with the San Diego Police to help train residents, young people and apartment managers on a policy called crime prevention through environmental design.

Successful crime-free certification can create a domino effect that benefits other apartment communities, according to IPS.

IPS also plans to convene a virtual resource webinar, host resident workshops, hold promotora training and conduct environmental scans in San Ysidro.

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