City Considers New Ban On Sleeping In Vehicles, Police Use Of Force, Growing Senior Population
KPBS Midday Edition / May 14, 2019
The San Diego City Council is considering an ordinance that would ban people living or sleeping in their vehicles. Also, the State of Washington will launch a universally available health care option, what impact would AB-392 have on police use of force, loneliness and high rent prompt California seniors to look for roommates and how San Diego can help support its growing senior population.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Homeless in disability rights advocates are expected to rally downtown this hour to voice their opposition to a proposed ban on vehicle habitation in San Diego. The city council will vote on whether to support a proposal from San Diego. Mayor Kevin Faulkner this afternoon. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman is covering the story and joins me now. Hi Matt. So Matt, this proposed band would replace a previous band. The council repealed earlier this year because a federal court found it was too vague. How does this proposed ban make the rules against living in your vehicle? More clear,
Speaker 2: 00:32 right? Yeah, it's, it's much more specific. I'm first it says, the proposed ban says people can't live in their vehicles between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM anywhere on public property in the city. Um, and then it goes on to say within 500 feet of a residential dwelling unit or a school. That's that, that's, that's like a house or other locations. Um, and then it gets very specific. Well, what defines vehicle habitation among them is sleeping, bathing, preparing meals, betting cookware inside the vehicle, food, water, grooming items, containers of human waste. Um, and it also goes on to talk about other things that may constitute vehicle habitation, including obscured windows, evidence of trash, temporary furnishings, um, and again, human waste near near the vehicle.
Speaker 1: 01:11 Now, this new proposed ban comes from Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Why does he say it's needed?
Speaker 2: 01:16 He, uh, he basically says all these people living in their vehicles and you know, being by the beaches and being by people's homes as a quality of life issue. Um, and he says that his office and Council officers have received hundreds of emails and complaints complaining and about trash, about drug use, public urination, and more as a result of individuals that have been taken advantage of our city and acting inappropriately. This is not safe. This is not healthy and this is not acceptable. He says that this is not appropriate. It's not safe and it's not healthy and not acceptable.
Speaker 1: 01:50 And Faulkner said the city will open more safe parking facilities. Tell us about that plan,
Speaker 2: 01:54 right? Yeah. So the city has to, they sponsor to safe parking lots that are run by the nonprofit Jewish family service or they're working on opening up a third one a, these are locations where people can go to sleep overnight. There's like an in and out time that people have to be in and out by. Um, but there's restrooms, hand washing stations, showers, and then there's like case managers that can help people, you know, find programs, whether it's to get benefits or to get into some type of housing. And that's a requirement of those safe parking facilities, right? Yeah. Yeah. That, that is a requirement that they have these, they have these services here. It's also worth noting that Jewish family service says that majority of the people who stay in their safe parking lots are people who are first time homeless. So like they just lost their house or something like that.
Speaker 2: 02:31 And they're in their car. They have nowhere to go. I'm not a lot of people who are chronically homeless, like these people who you might see downtown who are sleeping on the streets every night and how many people live in their cars in the city of San Diego, according to the 2019 point in time count and Voice of San Diego reports that there's 573 people living in their vehicles. Um, that includes a number of people who are living in their RVs as well. So are those safe parking lots enough to accommodate the population who need them? Right. Well, according to Jewish family service, there'll be about 520 spots. Once they get this, they have two lots in Kearny Mesa, they're going to open up another one near Stcc stadium in mission valley. Once they get all those lots opened up, uh, they expect to have about 520 parking spots. So they, they said there's 573 people living in their vehicles. We don't know. We don't know if that's 573 cars. There could be two or three people living inside one car. Um, so theoretically it sounds like they're pretty close to, uh, to that number.
Speaker 1: 03:24 And Matt, when we talk about people living in their vehicles, there are some who don't consider themselves homeless, right?
Speaker 2: 03:29 Right. Yeah. So there's sort of like two different populations here. There's people who are living in their vehicle because they say they have nowhere else to go. Uh, they can't afford the rent here. And then there's people in this, uh, sort of quote unquote van life contingent, um, who are traveling around, or they might stay in San Diego for a period of time and then go up the coast or something like that. Um, they consider it as like a lifestyle, um, where they might have sold their house and they bought a van and they're, and they're living in their van. They have like a policy of like a leave no trace where they, you know, they say they clean up and everything like that. They sort of feel like they're being scapegoated in this, uh, mayor Kevin Faulkner, a kind of loop them into these people who are taking advantage, uh, of these neighborhoods. A mayor, Faulkner says, you know, the beaches are most impacted by people living in, living in the living at other vans and their cars. Um, and he says, you know, people are using San Diego as a vacation spot. And he said, if people are homeless and they have nowhere to go, that they want to help them. That's what these safe parking lots are, are, are sort of four.
Speaker 1: 04:23 Why does the group rallying downtown this afternoon say it opposes the new band,
Speaker 2: 04:27 right? Yeah. And that's in part a disability rights. California was there who originally sued the city over this band. Um, uh, they, they say basically it's criminalizing and demonizing victims of, uh, of a housing crisis. They say that their clients have been priced out of housing due to skyrocketing rents and the real emergency is the lack of affordable housing.
Speaker 1: 04:45 San Diego City Council woman, Monica Montgomery, cast the loan dissenting vote. When this proposal came through the council committee on public safety and livable neighborhoods in April. Why is she a post?
Speaker 2: 04:56 She just thinks that the staff should redraft this proposal to consider the more interests of people who are homeless, um, and potentially add elements from like the city of Los Angeles. They have a vehicle habitation ordinance that has a diversion, a diversion program, and an interactive online map where people can see where they're able to park. Um, so just making the resident, making the ordinance, I'm more workable or friendly to people who are actually homeless.
Speaker 1: 05:19 I've been speaking to KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks, jade.
Speaker 3: 05:31 Okay.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Washington state has a new health care option. On Monday. Governor Jay Inslee signed a universal care plan.
Speaker 2: 00:07 You will improve affordability through standardized plan designs. They're easier to understand and have lower out of pocket costs for consumers. Reimbursement rates would be consistent, was 100% and 160% of Medicare rates. That will help ensure fair payments for providers to reduce costs for people.
Speaker 1: 00:29 The plan is state managed but not state run. Private Insurance will administer the new program called cascade care. It will offer a set of tiered public plans and is expected to cost 10% less than private insurance. California lawmakers have been trying to introduce single payer public health insurance for the state but have been stumped over how to pay for it cause something like this. Washington state public private hybrid B. The answer joining me is Associated Press reporter Tom James based in Seattle, Washington and Tom, welcome to the program.
Speaker 3: 01:05 Hi. Thanks for having me. On.
Speaker 1: 01:07 What does it mean that the state will manage cascade care even though it's administered by private insurers? In other words, who gets to set the terms of the coverage.
Speaker 3: 01:16 So the state is going to essentially make a contract with one or more likely more than one private insurance companies have to offer insurance plans on the state's healthcare exchange. So that means that the state will draw up a contract on, I think will be the state's insurance commissioner and set, you know, a broad set of terms for what the plans will cover. Um, what the, uh, cost share levels will be between the insurance provide her and, uh, you know, the patient and then leave the administration of those plans up to, uh, up to the insurance company to handle things like, you know, enrolling patients, paying out claims, doing customer service, the day to day of running the plan.
Speaker 1: 01:57 And, and it says, these plans will cover a so called standard services. What does that mean?
Speaker 3: 02:02 Standard services are defined in a couple of ways. Is My understanding, uh, there, the, the affordable care act or Obamacare, um, lays out, you know, I said if I think 10 essential services that all health plans have to cover. Um, and then there's also a set of peers in, uh, you know, metal tiers, bronze plans, silver plans, gold plan and platinum plans. Um, and my understanding is that, um, and I should emphasize that, you know, these contracts haven't been drawn up, so I need this could change I think a little bit, but from what I'm seeing in legislation here and the experts that I've talked to, and then the architects of the plan, the plan, the plans will cover, you know, all the same services that a private plan in the same tier would cover. Um, and the question between the tiers is just sort of how much, you know, whether it's 60% or 80%, uh, or you know, more or less, uh, of a cost. Um, uh, the insurer would cover as opposed to, you know, the patient covering and out of pocket.
Speaker 1: 03:01 Yeah. Are Private insurers supportive of this plan?
Speaker 3: 03:05 My understanding is that there was a mixed reception for the plan. Um, some of the insurers I think opposed it, but others as time went along and as law makers kind of, uh, fiddled with the dials of the policy, um, try to find something that was suitable for everybody. Uh, you know, some of them got on board.
Speaker 1: 03:26 When Washington State's plan takes effect in 2021, it will be available to everyone regardless of income. So how has the state making that work?
Speaker 3: 03:35 My understanding is that what you have, is it a fixed, uh, core cost for the plan, which is determined by how much the state essentially decides to pay doctors and hospitals for the services they provide. Um, now, uh, by capping that cost, the state hopes that the plans will be, as you said at the beginning, right in the range of five to 10% cheaper than, um, a comparable private plan. So that savings will be passed straight on to consumers. I think anybody who, who buys the plan, we'll get those, you know, offensively lower rates. Um, although how much lower, again, sounds like it's still a little bit up in the air. Um, and then, you know, there are still other subsidies like federal, uh, for instance, I think the main one is a federal tax subsidy. Um, that, uh, we'll go to, you know, people with lower incomes that won't be available to people with higher incomes the same way they would if you were buying any other plan on the individual market.
Speaker 3: 04:36 Um, and when I've talked to the architects of the plan, they've said that it probably won't be in terms of cost very attractive to somebody who already has, you know, Medicaid where they're paying very little of their own costs. And that's a, a plan for people on relatively low incomes or for people on an employer sponsored healthcare. So, you know, if you already have coverage through your job, this might not necessarily be attractive compared to that. But for the person considering a comparable plan on the individual market, you know, that's where I think most of the savings are going to be. As I've heard it as I've heard it described.
Speaker 1: 05:10 No. As I said, California has been struggling with how to build its own single payer health system. How is that different from Washington's new healthcare plan,
Speaker 3: 05:18 both a single payer and a public option? Our approaches that try to offer, you know, universal healthcare coverage, they tried to get to universal healthcare but via kind of different routes. So single payer offers universal healthcare, paid for by taxes. Um, and public option is more of unapproached to figuring out a way to offer a universally affordable healthcare offering, some kind of basic basic health plan that theoretically everyone will be able to afford for consumers. That probably means a very different experience between the two. On a single payer, you'd likely just go to any doctor and receive care and it would be covered the single payer, which is, you know, the state. Um, on a public option, you'd still have an insurance plan with potentially the same challenges of having to find a doctor that accepts your plan, um, and then figure out how to afford your deductible, you know, depending on what it is. But, but the flip side of course, is it critics think that single payer might be more expensive for taxpayers and ultimately might lead to fewer doctors being available and longer wait times for, for, for care, like a knee replacement or something that's not as critical as, you know, immediate open heart surgery. Again, that's what critics say. It's, that's all quite a ways out in the future since no one has done either of these things.
Speaker 1: 06:35 How have other states to try something like this, this a public private hybrid,
Speaker 3: 06:41 seen more states, uh, get closer to proposing this? Uh, you know, the, a lot of states have toyed with the idea of making some kind of, you know, public option available. Typically what they have leaned toward in the past has been offering a medicaid by it. So Medicaid is a, a program that offers insurance coverage to people on low incomes, but there's an, there's an eligibility limit. If you make over a certain amount of money, you're not eligible. So a lot of states have had toyed around with the idea of offering people essentially the ability to pay and get access to that program. So it's kind of an existing state program and you just expand the eligibility and Bada Bing, Bada boom. You kind of have in the box public option for a variety of reasons. You know, Washington has gone with this, with this public private hybrid model. They're trying to sort of invent a new system.
Speaker 1: 07:33 I've been speaking with Associated Press reporter Tom James, Tom. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 07:37 Hey, thanks so much.
Speaker 1: 07:39 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Today's San Diego City Council will vote on whether to throw it support behind assembly. Bill three 92 a bill the county board of supervisors voted to oppose two weeks ago. The legislation brought forth by San Diego Assembly woman, Shirley Weber, would raise the standard for use of deadly force from reasonable to necessary. Here she is yesterday at a Sacramento Rally with mothers who've lost loved ones to police violence. We have to have the right spirit to basically create an environment in California where everyone feels protected by law enforcement. That law enforcement is truly our friend of the people who comment to make things better, not to make things worse. Proponents say the change in standard would make it easier to prosecute officers who use lethal force unnecessarily, but legal experts say it may not change use of force protocol. And Nita Shabrea has been reporting on assembly bill three 92 for the Los Angeles Times.
Speaker 1: 00:54 She is joining us via Skype. I need a welcome. Thank you for having me, Jay. So first remind us, how would assembly bill three 92 change the way police use force three 92 changes? Uh, the standard from reasonable to necessary. That is the language in the bill. What that does is a little bit more nuanced. It, uh, will bring into clay what officers do prior to firing their weapons. So right now in California and really across the nation, the standard right now comes out of the u s supreme court for when officers can use deadly force and it's a case called Graham versus Connor that's been around for a couple of decades now and it limits are a examination of use of force to the moment the officer pulls the trigger. In that second, when the trigger was pulled, did that officer fear for their lives or someone else's lives?
Speaker 1: 01:49 Was there an imminent threat? What three 92 would ultimately do is pull back that timeline a little bit and allow us to look at the officers' actions leading up to that moment. And then what is the concern of law enforcement agencies then police and law enforcement across the state are incredibly concerned that their actions will be overly scrutinized in that moment. What they're saying is that your officers are making life and death decisions just in that split second and if they know that that is going to be Monday morning quarterback or second gas, then how will that affect them in that moment there what you hear law enforcement saying is they're worried that their officers will put themselves in danger or other people in danger by hesitating because of that fear of being second guessed and but there are some people who feel assembly bill three 92 will fall short of what its intent is to put it your way, the proposal won't be what community groups want or what law enforcement fears.
Speaker 1: 02:52 So tell me about that. Really what three 92 is doing is taking what is already place on the civil court side and putting it into criminal law. So right now in California it was actually a San Diego case, a man named Shane Hayes who was shot by sheriff's deputies. That case has wound to the courts. And what has become of it is that there is the expectations that police do need to use all caution and all reasonable efforts leading up to the use of force. So what you see around California is that many agencies already, cha are already training their officers to that standard. They're teaching officers crisis intervention and deescalation and all these things that we as a society have asked our police to do to try to not use lethal force. They're doing that in part because on the civil side if they don't do that, you see these lawsuits coming out of use of force incidents.
Speaker 1: 03:52 So really three 92 is just taking those standards and putting them in the criminal code. So in a lot of instances and a lot of departments, you're not going to see an active change in what police are doing on the street. You're simply going to see that accountability brought into the criminal code as well as on the civil side. And in your article you point to some of the broader issues, assembly bill three 92 is trying to address what are some of those issues? I think across the country as we've seen in since the black lives matter movement and other things have really come into play is that there's a question on what we want from our law enforcement. There's sort of two mentalities are the guardians or are they warriors? And you're seeing this conversation come up, uh, across the country. And I think that here in California and in many places, officers and law enforcement field that they're always guardians, that the sanctity of life is always the highest priority for them.
Speaker 1: 04:52 But on the community side, what you're seeing is people saying, no, we don't like the way our, our communities are being policed. And we feel that you're coming into our communities as warriors, as an armed force that sees us as the enemy. And so we want you to rethink that. And really what three 92 is getting at is a, is a way to address that. What is the mentality officers should enter a community with and how does that play out in their policies and their procedures and their actions? And what are some of the other policy issues that need to be addressed for legislation like assembly bill three 92 to be effective at keeping communities and officers safe? You know, I think the number one thing that we are not talking about is the fact that police and law enforcement have become our first responders for mental illness.
Speaker 1: 05:41 And I think this is something you are here officers across the state in both urban and rural communities say is that a good percentage of their calls involves some sort of mental illness. And just from my reporting reporting on police shootings. So many of these involve mental illness in some way. And so I genuinely believe that until we actively start discussing that link in public and being very clear that we are asking our officers to be first responders and deciding whether we want to ask our law enforcement to be first responders and mental health, that we are going to continue to have this tension in these problems. Because you are putting together, uh, you are asking an armed force to be the first line of response in mental illness. And we have to decide if that's what we want to do as a state. And as the San Diego City Council decides whether or not to put its support behind this bill, uh, what is the significance of their stance?
Speaker 1: 06:40 I think it's tremendously significant what cities and counties across the state are going to do right now. The historic tension in the Capitol with legislators is that law enforcement is an incredibly powerful a force. There's a great deal of deference and respect both to what they represented to society and to their lobbying power and their dollars. So there is tremendous pushback right now from law enforcement in Sacramento against three 92 and, uh, much lobbying to make sure that the language of use of force in three 92 does not move forward. And so as you're looking at cities, they're going to be a hearing from their sheriffs and their chief of police across the state on what they would like to see those cities do. And they're going to have to balance that with what the communities want. So I think that where cities land, we'll have a great impact done. Where Sacramento. Lance, I've been speaking with Anita Shabrea who covers California state politics and policy for the Los Angeles Times and need a thank you very much. Thank you.
Speaker 2: 07:46 Yeah.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Loneliness and financial need are driving some California seniors to move in together. Aging experts say it's more and more common as the elderly navigate the state's affordability crisis as part of our statewide collaboration covering the California dream. KPBS is Amica Sharma reports.
Speaker 2: 00:18 When you think about senior roommates, you might imagine the golden girls, I need somebody to bull is please just say yes and nobody would get hurt, but the reality is often less charmed. At 95 Eleanor's stone has outlived her husband, three children and five siblings. I'm all alone. I don't have anybody, so she decided to take a roommate into his San Diego home in 2012 68 year old rose Mickey. He I was living in my own apartment and I hadn't been able to find work and the money was just going and I knew I wasn't going to make the next month's around the two met through a San Diego Program called elder help. It matches seniors looking for roommates. There are similar organizations around the state. We get along good. Oh, you know, she does her thing and I do my thing and my cat does. Her thing. Rose likes that Elenora doesn't in her words, crowd her too much.
Speaker 2: 01:22 I am an introvert and for us we build energy by being alone. The women don't eat together. They don't talk about too much. We do talk about the cat. I tell her what the cat does. Your all of this stuff, they have different schedules. Rose rises early, eats breakfast, works until TPM and then watching something on Netflix in the afternoon. Eleanor wakes up at 8:30 AM grabs the coffee and the newspaper first I regular sports sector, they'll I wrote dear Debbie then a real jumble. Bruce Helps Eleanor with the computer and takes her to doctor's appointments, but I know I can count on her and Eleanor helps rose if I feel like interacting. There's somebody to talk to because I think if I lived alone, I may never see anybody else. You know, companionship is an important part of these partnerships. Caroline Cicero's, a gerontology professor at the University of Southern California living alone puts people at higher risk of depression, which you might expect. She says, people who live alone are also more likely to be a victim of fraud or a scam, and you're also more likely to have poor nutrition and poor health outcomes. Taking on roommates can help seniors keep a place to live. Fixed incomes aren't keeping up with California's rising rents on your de la Cruz is the associate director of elder help.
Speaker 3: 02:48 We hear a lot of times I never thought that I would be in this position and I don't know what to do. I'm scared it's looking like I might be homeless
Speaker 2: 02:56 when I ask Rose Mcgeehee if she choose this life for herself, probably not. Yeah, probably not. And for Ellen or stone, living with rose has not warded off the pain of outliving her family, but I'm still only, you know, joining me as KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma. I meet the welcome. Thank you. It's good to be here, Maureen. So I have some practical questions about rose and Eleanor's roommate arrangement since it's Eleanor. His house. Does rose pay rent? Yes. Rose pays Eleanor rent every month. And is that less than what you would pay for an apartment? Yes, it's a lot less than what she would pay for an apartment. And that's how she can afford to stay there. Precisely. What kind of living arrangement is it? Does rose have her own bedroom and bathroom? Yes. Rose has her own bedroom. She has her own bathroom. She's full use of the house.
Speaker 2: 03:51 Uh, the kitchen, she cooks her own food. They don't necessarily cook together, eat the same kind of food because rose is gluten free. Eleanor is not, and they share a house. Sometimes they watch TV together. Uh, most of the time they don't, but um, yeah, they, it's just as much Rose's house or she gets to use the house as much as Eleanor. Does our household responsibilities divided for instance, who does the cleaning and the gardening? They share that. Um, you know, Eleanor used to love to garden but she's 95 in and can't do what she used to do. So they bring in somebody to do the gardening. Um, they share household duties though in terms of cleaning, in speaking with the people at elder help. And that's the group that paired up rose and Eleanor. Did you find there are many of these senior roommate arrangements in San Diego?
Speaker 2: 04:44 There are no precise stats on how many seniors are living together, uh, as in roommate situations in San Diego County or across the state. But what I can tell you is that as the affordable housing crisis intensifies, these kinds of living arrangements are becoming more prevalent in Los Angeles County where overall homelessness has gone down. Um, senior homelessness has risen by 22%. So that county is now looking at pairing up seniors to live together as a guard rail as a, as a barrier, um, a stop gap prevention, uh, from seniors ending up on the streets. Does elder help provide any backup for senior roommates? Any sort of counseling or advice? They provide a lot of advice. They also provide mediation for seniors who may not be getting along who are roommates, um, and they try to explain realistically what, What this arrangement looks like and they try to pass along a conflict resolution skills.
Speaker 2: 05:53 It's obvious what rose is getting out of this situation. She's getting a very nice place to live for less than it would cost her to live somewhere else. What does Eleanor getting out of it? Eleanor gets companionship. Eleanor has outlived her children, her spouse, her siblings, and, and I think, you know, that is the other side, the other dimension to roommate situations among the elderly that yes, it's financial. It helps a lot of seniors keep roofs over their heads, make ends meet. But, but you know, a lot of seniors don't live near loved ones or don't have loved ones. They're not able to, to move around like they used to, but they crave a conversation with other human beings. And so this fills that need, fulfills this need. You talked about the positive aspects of senior roommates, like companionship, safety, et cetera. What are the downsides?
Speaker 2: 06:50 Well, it's not easy to live with another human being, especially someone who's a stranger. You know, especially when you may have had your own home, raised her own family, lived with a spouse, and now suddenly you're forced to live. If you have financial needs, you're forced to live in this kind of arrangement. And you don't know this person. You don't know what their likes and dislikes are. You don't know. Maybe they have some personality quirks. Maybe you do too. Maybe you're somebody who needs a lot of space, but yet you're, again, you're forced to live in this kind of arrangement. It can be extremely tough. And then there's that aspect of, you know, feeling like you're dependent. What if you brought somebody into your home because you know, you need someone to help you with transportation. You need somebody to take you to the doctor.
Speaker 2: 07:38 You, uh, you need somebody to explain the computer for you. It's not something that you would have chosen for yourself. You would have preferred that a child was doing this or a spouse was doing this. You know, emotionally, there's that reminder that, oh, I'm having to rely on a stranger to do this and not a loved one. So it's, it's extremely hard. But I, you know, it's not hard for everyone. There are people who get on like a house on fire there. I, um, one of the women whom I interviewed on your Dilla Cruise, I think she's the associate executive director at ElderHelp. She told me that their longest pairings so far has been 15 years. And these two people have become family and their families, no one another, they celebrate the holidays together. You know, they, they talk all the time. They watch movies and watch TV together.
Speaker 2: 08:28 They turned to each other, they play games together. So it's, it can, it can turn out really well like the show golden girls, you know, that ran, I think back in the 80s, it can turn out perfectly. And then for some is just, no, you live amicably with another human being. You understand, you've come to this point in life where you must do this. Um, but it's not necessarily by choice. So when it works well, it's really, really helpful for both parties. I'm wondering, is the state getting involved in supporting this kind of housing option for seniors? This is an idea that's being thrown out there a lot. And um, especially in Los Angeles county where again, they're trying to reduce homelessness among seniors. I've heard people here in San Diego discuss it as an option as well, because there's very little affordable housing for seniors and so many people, for whatever reason, whether you know they've lost a spouse, they have had a medical challenge and, and they've spent their life savings on that. Um, and, and they don't have any kind of buffer when the rent goes up and, and they either are going to become homeless or somebody will take them in. And that doesn't happen. If somebody won't take them in, then what other choice do they have but to move in with somebody else. And so this is a way that, that government officials are looking to prevent homelessness and, and get seniors off the street. I've been speaking with KPBS investigative reporter and Meetha Sherman [inaudible]. Thank you. Thank you. Maureen.
Speaker 1: 00:00 But finding roommates for older San Diego is not the end of the challenge. By 2035 more than a million San Diegans will be over the age of 55. That means that our county can either be overwhelmed by the needs of an aging population or embrace and maximize the contributions of older citizens in a safe environment. It's a challenge that supporters of age friendly communities want San Diego to take on. Now by addressing a series of topics essential to senior health and wellbeing. Joining me is my Iro says, author of the report titled Aging in San Diego and circulate San Diego's director of policy. My welcome to the program. Thanks so much for having me. Now. Where does this age friendly community designation come from?
Speaker 2: 00:47 So age friendly communities came out of the World Health Organization partnering with a in the United States to really promote and encourage jurisdictions to start planning for the aging population in San Diego. As you said, the population is aging, um, by 194% to get to that 1 million people in 2035 from 2012. Um, and it's the same. It's the same pattern happening across the country. So it's time to be planning for our aging population.
Speaker 1: 01:16 What are some of the elements that make the community age friendly?
Speaker 2: 01:20 It ranges from the need to improve the built environment. That's transportation options, that's housing, that sidewalks, but also, um, the social environment. We need to be planning for how to make sure that seniors aren't socially isolated. They have opportunities for recreation, for social inclusion, and to be able to live a normal life.
Speaker 1: 01:42 Now your report describes some specific challenges that seniors face in San Diego. What are they?
Speaker 2: 01:49 In San Diego, between 2016 and 20 1785 older adults unfortunately died in motor vehicle collisions and one loss of life is too many, let alone 85. In addition, 35% of homeless individuals, um, are 55 years old or older. And a quarter of San Diego's seniors make below 200% of the federal poverty level. So these are issues that we really need to be addressed. Specifically help seniors
Speaker 1: 02:16 circulate San Diego. The organization that you're involved with is an advocate for public transit and alternative modes of transportation. Why did it decide to get involved in the creation of age friendly communities?
Speaker 2: 02:29 Well, we partnered with the San Diego Foundation to write this report aging in San Diego because we believe that a city that's designed well for people, 80 years old is also a city that's designed well for an eight year old and for everyone in between. And so we need to be designing for people who may, might have a physical needs like accessibility needs. Um, and that's good for everyone. Can you describe
Speaker 1: 02:53 to us the difference between a standard city that we see now and then age friendly community? How would they look different?
Speaker 2: 03:00 An age friendly community has gone through a process where they very thoughtfully have come up with an action plan that addresses the eight domains of livability, which range from housing, transportation, social inclusion, et cetera. And so they have deliberately made plans for how, um, these cities are built out and provide access for their seniors to be able to say, go to social gatherings. I'm with multiple transportation options. Um, and so many cities may already be doing these things, but an age friendly community has been deliberately planning for this, uh, and is planning for multiple areas that address a seniors' needs. Okay.
Speaker 1: 03:42 Would we see more parks? Would we see more pedestrian walkways? Would we see more places for people to gather? Okay.
Speaker 2: 03:50 Absolutely. A big component of age friendly communities is outdoor spaces. Having a place to go to hang out with friends to be able to get some exercise. And that's really a key component as well as, um, safe sidewalks, preventing trip hazards. But it also includes issues that relate to affordability for seniors.
Speaker 1: 04:10 Where are some of the existing age friendly communities across America? What are some of the things they put into action?
Speaker 2: 04:17 So across the country, they're our age friendly communities. Um, for example, in West Sacramento, they have an action plan that includes an educational campaigns to inform seniors about the code enforcement services so that if a senior lives in a, a substandard housing, they know how to get the city involved to help them out there. Here in San Diego, in Chula Vista. Chula Vista offers shuttle services to cultural events in the city so that seniors have a way to get out and enjoy the city's offerings.
Speaker 1: 04:49 So there are cities in San Diego County that are already age friendly.
Speaker 2: 04:54 Yeah, that's right. The city of Chula Vista and the county of San Diego. Our leaders here in San Diego, um, they've already adopted an action plan. The city of La Mesa is in the process of developing their action plan and the city of San Diego has announced their intent to become an age friendly community. But that leaves a lot of jurisdictions in the San Diego region without an age friendly planning process. And circulate is more than willing to help with that.
Speaker 1: 05:20 I've been speaking with, my Arrow says she's author of the report entitled aging in San Diego and she's also circulate San Diego's director of policy. Maya, thank you very much. Thank you. The city of La Mesa is holding to public workshops to get input on how we can help support seniors tomorrow. And on May 22nd you can find event information on our website, k pbs.org and tune in to our California Dream Town Hall special on navigating the golden years. That's May 22nd on KPBS midday edition. You can find more of our stories on California's aging population by checking out graying california.org.