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California's housing crisis leaves San Diegans struggling

 June 12, 2023 at 1:03 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. From encampment bands to Rising rent. We are talking about San Diego's housing crisis and the solutions on the table. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's the conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. Why some lawmakers and advocates are pushing for housing density requirements.

S2: Being able to build smaller , more affordable by design cuts to sales price in half and have been shown in numerous studies as a way to increase homeownership rates in California.

S1: Plus , what's behind Blackstone buying up affordable housing around town ? And do cities have the resources to support encampment bands ? We'll explore it on Midday Edition. We hear it all the time. California is in the midst of a housing crisis. Many see increased housing density as a solution , but that's not popular with everyone. A new state law , however , could drastically change the landscape of housing in San Diego , one of the first cities in the state to opt in. Joining me now with more on this is Muhammad Ali Malden , a policy associate for the Turner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Muhammad , thanks so much for joining us.

S2: Oh , thank you for having me , Jade.

S1: So San Diego will become one of the first cities in the state to opt in to Senate Bill ten. Can you remind us what's in it ? Built in is what this means and what changes this could bring.

S2: Senate Bill ten was passed around two years ago and it provides local governments the ability to zone up to ten units per parcel in transit rich or urban infill areas. The locality can choose to opt into the law , but it's seen as a way to for localities to have the power to streamline the process , to build up to ten units and usually formerly exclusionary areas in the state.

S1: And homeownership seems like an unreachable goal for so many people.

S2: At the Turner Center , we've had a number of papers on how to increase home ownership. We had an analysis on missing middle housing , which is houses two plexus to 40 plex's. And we found that smaller homes bunched together around 1400 square feet were very popular to be entry like starter homes in the United States until the 1970s , when most of them have been deemed illegal and there are less than 10% of the housing production that's being done right now. These homes are affordable by design because they're smaller. A study conducted by California Community Builders found that in six Bay Area cities that by adopting laws like SB ten and allowing these smaller homes to be built , the sale price for these homes is about half of what you would find for a single family home , and that's just building up to four units. We've also found in a recent study on home ownership that we've conducted , if we produce the same amount of homes as has been done in the rest of the country , our lack of homeownership would decrease by 48%. So California would have still been unaffordable , but it wouldn't take until the age of 49 for people for more than 50% of the population to be homeowners , that number would be closer to around 40. So being able to build smaller are more affordable by design cuts the sales price in half and have been shown in numerous studies as a way to increase homeownership rates in California to create more stability for communities.


S2: A lot of what San Diego adopts is later just replicated at the state level , examples being limitations to parking , like eliminating parking minimums and transit rich areas , which later became state law increases within density bonus law , which allowed more housing units to be built if they built a certain amount of affordable to low or moderate incomes. And they're really paving the way when it comes to accessory dwelling unit construction , the Adu bonus program is seen as like the gold standard for accessory dwelling units and programs like Complete Communities and how San Diego has worked with builders to build more housing is seen as the ideal partnership for other parts of the state. The issue is that all of these laws that have been passed within San Diego or let's say all of these initiatives made by San Diego allowed for just renter homes to be established. So it's more pathways for us to have more community builders.


S2: It could be tearing down a few homes and building up to ten homes on that parcel. We're not sure how well it could work. We're hoping for San Diego to adopt it so we could learn from it and maybe improve it. So San Diego taking this step , as it usually does in California. Cornea is vital for us to see how effective Senate Bill ten is and if any improvements need to be made for the bill to be more effective.

S1: You're listening to Midday Edition on Kpbs. And we're talking housing policy with Muhammad Ali Meldon , a policy associate for the Turner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley.

S2: So the first step is changing the zoning changing zoning policy , when to allow for more homes to be built. Second , there needs to be more flexible design standards. The minimum unit size must be smaller. The heights of these buildings must be a little taller. There must be floor area ratio must be more permissible for more development. Um , there's a lot that goes past zoning that needs to be tackled , especially if we want to increase homeownership rates. Third , after zoning and flexible design standards for projects to pencil localities or in builders need to build more than 2 to 3 units. We've seen Senate Bill nine build. About seven homes in are in the process of building seven homes in San Diego. San Diego's Adu bonus program , where the average project size is about 8 or 9 , is building nearly 500 more homes than Senate Bill nine. So by allowing more units , more projects could pencil. Finally , a clear and efficient approval process with the local government is essential for things to work. The longer projects delay , the more they cost and the more people don't get paid. Because we use private financing in this country , people expect payments , so then they could pay their contractors and so on. And localities need to really work to work with their utilities and with local agencies to ensure like if a project is built , the electricity can turn on and they don't have to deal with the utility company for six months. So really it's these three things like you have to make sure that these projects pencil and the first step is zoning.

S1: And you kind of touched on it.

S2: Um , how we are currently building in San Diego will strain infrastructure. Then vantage of Senate Bill ten is that these are home for home ownership and they deal with Subdivision Map Act and they deal with other tools that localities could use to charge fees to pay for services. And also one home becoming ten homes brings in a lot more money to local governments. The American Enterprise Institute , the complete opposite of UC Berkeley , did a study of 100 metropolitan areas , and it found that with housing types that are legalized through Senate Bill ten that are still here from like the 1950s , they give so much more to a city's tax base and they help utility companies so much because their the infrastructure isn't laid out very far. It's closer together and it's easier to maintain. And the city. Instead of getting the property taxes of one home , they get property taxes for 6 to 10 homes. Suddenly they have a lot more money in the bank. And these being new homes , new home ownership units. The Prop 13 values set from now instead of from the 1970s. So even though these the people in these housing units pay a lot more in property taxes , it is a benefit for city to up upkeep infrastructure and improve infrastructure by building housing units.




S2: Right. My little brother is staying in the middle of Paris. He lives in a 400 square foot studio , but he pays $1,000 a month. Right. Like by building by rethinking how our cities look right now , the way we're building our cities , where it's either single family homes are the only way to own a home or you have to live in a 50 plus unit rental. You were creating an economically segregated society , and in the next 20 years , if you weren't able to buy the single family home now , no one in your family will be able to do that 20 years from that. And it's because we do not have that missing middle , those smaller home types up to ten , up to 20 in urban areas where people could walk , bike , use public transit and still live in a thriving community. And this is great for business. This is great for local governments and their tax base , and this creates more connected communities.

S1: I've been speaking with Muhammad Ali Meldon , a policy associate for the Turner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Muhammad , thank you very much for your insight.

S2: Oh , thank you so much , Jade and Kpbs , for having me.

S1: What do you think about SB ten and the proposal to increase housing density ? We'd love to hear from you. Give us a call. (619) 452-0228. You can leave a message or you can email us at midday at Coming up , how one company is driving the cost of rent up.

S3: If they can raise the rent just high enough that it's out of somebody's reach so they have to leave , then they can flip that unit and make it much higher rent on the next tenant.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Affordable housing has long been seen as a key component in solving California's ongoing housing crisis. But a buying spree of lower income properties by a major investment firm is raising more than eyebrows for local tenants. It's raising rents. Joining me now with more on this story is Calmatters reporter Wendy Frey. Wendy , welcome back to Midday Edition. Hi.

S3: Hi. Thanks for having me.

S1: So , Wendy , let's start off with the landlord in question here. And that's a Blackstone. A lot of people know them as an investment firm , but they're also substantial property owners. Tell me about that. Right.

S3: Right. So Blackstone is the world's biggest private equity firm. It's also one of the biggest single real estate owners in the world. They own probably 100,000 rental units across the US. They also own hotels , warehouses , European resorts. So they're huge firm and a big player in real estate.

S1: And they've been at this for a while. So how did they come to purchase so much property here in San Diego ? Right.

S3: So in May 2021 , Blackstone was planning to purchase these 66 residential complexes in San Diego. There the properties were known as naturally occurring affordable housing , which means rental homes that are affordable without federal subsidies. There was a great article by the Union-Tribune by Phil Molnar that covered this at the time that Blackstone was going to be buying up all these properties close to 6000 apartments , and that that was going to be one of the biggest real estate transactions in local history. At that time , there was a lot of concern from housing advocates. Even local politicians weighed in. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Tony Atkinson at Pro Tem Tony Atkins wrote this letter to the seller urging the seller Conrad Krebs Foundation to reconsider selling these properties because the concern at the time was black Stone is beholden to their shareholders to raise rents and increase profits on these properties. Right ? And so me and my colleague Alejandro Lazo wanted to check in and basically see if two years later , if those concerns were realized and we found , you know , largely that that they were that rents have increased quite substantially at some of the properties and making it to where a lot of these tenants are paying , you know , larger and larger portions of their income. You know , in one case , we found a woman who was paying more than 86% of her income to her rent and many other tenants that are paying upwards of 50% of their income to their rent to keep that roof over their head.

S1: And I remember at the time when they were buying up these properties , there were promises of financial literacy programs , health and wellness programs within their properties.

S3: I do know that Blackstone says that they have invested a lot of money in in in the aesthetics of these these properties , you know , landscaping , painting , that type of thing. They they say that they're investing $100 million to make these communities a prettier , better place to live. They also say since they started ownership , they've completed 26,000 work orders and they have already invested 40 million to make them better places to live. As far as these programs , the after school programs that they mentioned when the when the sale was going through. I've been to a lot of these properties. You know , I just drove around to the properties , talking to residents about what it was like to live there. I didn't hear anybody mention any of that.

S1: And the properties they manage are characterized as affordable housing , but they've made them less affordable since they've purchased the units. Tell me about that. Right.

S3: Right. So we have a graphic chart on our Web story that we posted that shows exactly each each of the properties , what the average rent was at the time of the purchase and what the units are currently being listed as. And so some of them , you know , some of the ones in the lower income areas , the percent change is about 50% , 50 to 75%. But at some of the more expensive properties that were already more expensive , the Bay Point and Pacific Beach , those have been increased by 200% , the rents and so on average , they were 29 to 100% higher than the average rents that tenants were paying in 2021. Now , of course , Blackstone says that they're that their , you know , rents are are in line with the San Diego market. Right. So Blackstone says that its apartment rents are lower than 80% of the competition in San Diego , so that most of their units are affordable to people making a median income. However , if you look at these properties , you can definitely see how much the rent has gone up.


S3: So there's six. In units in this 66 properties that they bought in 2021. They also owned some before that , I think they owned maybe 1700 before that. So , you know , anywhere between 12,000 to up to 20,000 depending on how many people live in each of those units. Right. You know.

S1: You spoke with a lot of these residents. Can you give us an idea of what they're dealing with here ? And we know the rents have gone up.

S3: Not just the rent is increasing , but fees , different fees that they've never had to pay before. Maybe they didn't have to pay for certain utilities before and now they are having to pay for them. It's really interesting that there's a couple advocacy groups that are trying to put these residents in touch. Basically , you know , let each resident know , you know , that there's a lot of other Blackstone residents living in the area. And the reason why that's important is because each of these properties have layers of limited liability protections right there , limited liability corporation. So if you want to go look up who owns the property where I live , it wouldn't necessarily come up as saying Blackstone. It would come up as saying Dorian LLC. Right. And so there's these different advocacy groups that are trying to put these tenants in touch so that they can , you know , work together to build some power and also compare notes on what's going on at the different properties.

S1: And earlier , you mentioned that some rents have gone up 200%. How are people making ends meet when rent accounts for so much of their expenses ? Right.

S3: And that is that is the part that is the most shocking to see. You know , I talked to one woman who was you know , she she stays on the alert for the expired food bed at the different , you know , food for less or the different grocery stores that sell food that has already expired or is about to expire in a day. So she stays on alert for anything that might go on sale for that. So it goes she goes shopping several times a week and can buy , you know , a couple a couple meals at a time for her and her son. It is important to note that California caps how much landlords can raise rents on current tenants , but there's no there's nothing that regulates how much they can raise it once that apartment unit turns over. So if they can raise the rent just high enough that it's out of somebody's reach so they have to leave , then they can flip that unit and make it much higher rent on the next tenant.


S3: Right. And someone in our article was quoted saying , you know , it's like having a diamond. It's only going to go up in property because the demand is so high and the supply is so low. And so , you know , that's one of the things that we really want to look at is we see the homeless problem. The homeless problem in San Diego is very , very visible. No one can deny that. Right. But how many San Diego families are teetering on the precipice of homelessness and , you know , giving their last dime to these large private equity firms that , you know , the owner took home $1.1 billion for his salary in 2020. You know how many San Diego's are right there where they're about to be homeless. And that's very hard to figure out with data. But that's one of the things we definitely want to look at.


S3: And they can they can really weigh in on any kind of laws aimed at rent control or rent protections. Um , I haven't seen much pushback yet that's specifically aimed at Blackstone. I know that there are movement. You know , Shawn Rivera , the council president , had a renter protection bill that went through recently. So there are some movement towards trying to cap the amount that the places can increase rent. But as far as pushback directly , haven't seen that yet.

S1: You're listening to Midday Edition on Kpbs. I'm talking with Calmatters reporter Wendy Frey about concerns surrounding the Blackstone Property Group. Wendy , what is Blackstone saying about all this controversy ? Have they responded to any request for comment ? Yeah.

S3: So they they do say that , you know , their apartments , their rents are lower than 80% of the competition in San Diego market , that they don't own a large enough percentage of apartments here in San Diego to be able to. Right. To raise rents at a large scale. So they're not driving up the rent costs according to them , across the board because they don't own a large enough percentage to be able to do that. They also say they've invested quite a bit of money already in making. These buildings more aesthetically pleasing with landscaping , painting , that kind of thing. They say they've invested $40 million since their ownership of these communities began and completed 26,000 work orders.

S1: And Blackstone is saying , you know , they're not driving up the rents. And that's just a side effect of the regional housing shortage there. You say so. Is that true ? You know , I.

S3: Think it'll sort of have to be time that plays out to see. We'll have to watch this over time to see I mean , we know from the history of how Blackstone operates , right , that they view economic downturns as a huge economic opportunity for themselves to make huge profits because they're able to do that. They're sitting on so much money that like , for example , when their subsidiary invitation Homes came in and bought up 40,000 single family homes during the financial crisis , all those millions of people are losing their homes and they were able to sweep in and buy them all up. Right. So they get richer when the rest of society sort of suffers this economic disaster because they have the money to be able to do that. So they view housing as an asset class that will make them rich. Um , how they end up doing that , That's something we're going to watch and see.

S1: And you know , this story really highlights another major issue facing California residents and that that's simply that rents are rising dramatically. So where does Blackstone fit into this ? Right.

S3: So rents are rising dramatically. And again , a lot of that is the supply and the demand. Right. There's so many more people that need housing then there is housing. And so that is such a valuable commodity that the price on it is going to go up and up and up and up and up. And that's not going to stabilize out until there's enough affordable housing for people , for enough people to have , you know , a place to live. And so , you know , again , they say that they're not driving up the rents on a large scale. And I think we have to take a look at what is that supply and what is the demand to. Okay.

S1: Okay. So bottom line , this for me , landlords buy up a property , raise the rents and effectively kick out the existing tenants. This is happening all over the country , isn't it ? Yes.

S3: And Blackstone owns properties all over the country and a lot mean. So what's happening is there's a consolidation of landlords , landlords in America. So just like , you know , just like with corporate media and how all the media got consolidated under a few large owners. Right. There's 61 individual billionaire landlords , you know , all , you know , old white men with a collective wealth of upwards of $2,250 billion together. Right. And so they're owning more and more and more of the real estate in America. It's getting consolidated and those top billionaire real estate investors made billions and billions of dollars more during the pandemic that , you know , while while the pandemic hit , are working class essential workers. They they may profit like think like $25 billion in profit during that time.

S1: I've been speaking with Cal Matters reporter Wendy Frey. Wendy , thank you very much for joining us today.

S3: Thank you so much.



S1: More on that when Kpbs Midday Edition returns. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. It's hard to talk about housing in San Diego without talking about homelessness. Policymakers and advocates alike have increasingly characterized the region's homelessness problem as a housing issue , first and foremost. But as the San Diego City Council considers a controversial ban on encampments , concerns remain over where these unhoused residents will be forced to go and what will actually solve the problem in the first place. Joining me now with more on the story is Lisa Halberstadt , senior investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. She's been covering San Diego's issue with homelessness for seven years. Lisa , welcome back.

S4: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: Glad to have you.

S4: So there would need to be beds available for that enforcement to happen. Now , there are certain they're calling them sensitive areas where camping in tents would be banned at all times. This is within two blocks of schools and shelters in parks , open spaces along major transit hubs and waterways. And in terms of the impact. You know , I think that this this ordinance in terms of these sensitive areas , it's really notable that it's going to have a very significant impact , in particular in East Village , which is the long time homeless service hub of San Diego and many areas , you know , in southern the southern portion of East Village and the northern portion of Barrio Logan , where there are multiple shelters and services , public restrooms. People will not be able to camp there anymore. And so it will be interesting to see what happens in those areas , but also in areas outside of there where people may still want to be close to a public restroom or the health center that they go to at father villages but can't necessarily camp two blocks from there anymore.

S1: There are still a lot of areas in the city where this ordinance would not go into effect. So can you explain that ? Sure.

S4: So I think it's important , as I said before , for listeners to really understand that shelter often is not available , whether it's somebody wanting it or the police are trying to persuade someone to accept it. So on a typical day in the last few months , just 23 beds were available on a typical day for a population that we learned , you know , in the most recent downtown San Diego partnership count totals more than 22,100 people downtown and in its outskirts. That's just the downtown area. So when shelter is not available , police won't be able to fully enforce the ordinance on a sidewalk that isn't in one of those sensitive areas that I talked about before. So this could mean that people are able to camp. And , you know , if it's an area that's not in a sensitive place , they're not blocking a sidewalk. So it is an encroachment violation. People may go to places like Golden Hill , for example , or even the Gaslamp quarter , where there are large swaths of areas that are not marked as sensitive because they don't have a park or it's not within two blocks of a school or a shelter. And so , you know , I think it will be interesting to see , you know , over time , I've written a lot about the impacts of enforcement on the homeless community. And what I often see is folks moving from place to place to avoid enforcement and then moving back eventually. So I think it will be really interesting to see what sort of migration happens as a result of this. But the details matter in terms of how the enforcement looks and works.

S1: And that in mind , let's say this proposal passes.

S4: So Mayor Todd , Gloria and Councilman Stephen Whitburn , who is written this ordinance , they have said that they recognize that there's a need to provide a lot more shelter options for people to take advantage of. So the city plans to open two safe campsites in Balboa Park that would supply 500 campsites. But again , as I said before , in my reporting experience , many folks will be moving to areas where they think they won't face as much enforcement. There will be a bunch of people who take the city up on the offer of those campsites or additional shelter beds. But there are going to be people that relocate themselves , if only temporarily. And that could mean that they go into neighborhoods outside that service , concentrated area outside of downtown. They could end up , you know , as I said before , at places like Golden Hill or Sherman Heights or even in other cities , I've seen in the past folks going to Chula Vista to avoid enforcement. That's happening in the downtown area. So I think it will be very interesting to see if this passes , where else people end up in places where they might not have been in the past.


S4: But but Mayor Gloria has said , you know , there's not going to be an overnight change in tents lining sidewalks if the ordinance is approved on Tuesday. They have a police staffing shortage. They're also limited resources. So , you know , an assistant police chief told me the city will start with cracking down on homeless camps that are in parks and near schools rather than all the areas. And particularly they , I think , chose schools because San Diego police expect that they can partner with school officers for enforcement near schools. But the police really have said to that they think that this gives them more backbone than other offenses currently on the books related to homelessness if it passes. Of course , they expect to try to use patrol officers to try to maintain cleared areas after they tell unsheltered people they need to move , which is something they haven't done before. And this also gives them power , especially within these sensitive areas , to say that folks need to move on even if they're not necessarily blocking a sidewalk , which now is really the major offense that police use to address homelessness. But often , you know , someone may set up their tent on a sidewalk , but it's not necessarily blocking the sidewalk. And so that really doesn't always give the police a tool to get someone to move on.

S1: You've touched on this , but , you know. Yes , enforcement for this would likely be a huge challenge.

S4: I do think , you know , I've thought a lot about DirecTV that Mayor Todd Gloria gave last October , saying that police would need to order folks to take their tents down during the day. And anyone who's been in downtown San Diego recently knows that that people are not taking their tents down during the day. And that's a reflection of the lack of bandwidth and staffing that police have had. And so , you know , I mentioned , you know , that the police are thinking about how they partner , say , with school officers or how they use patrol officers to try to maintain areas that they've cleared. Um , but they also say that just the specifics of this ordinance just make it easier for them to enforce as well.

S1: And , you know , there's a lot of pushback on this proposal.

S4: They argue that the city needs a lot more shelter options. You know , as I said , on a typical day in the last three months , there have just been 23 beds available citywide for placement. And we have much larger unsheltered population than that from a lot of advocates on that topic. They also argue that the punitive approach just makes it harder to get people off the street. You know , often in these enforcement operations , people will relocate themselves and their service providers that have been trying to help them get off the street will lose contact with them. They often will lose belongings in the process , too. So a lot of the advocates are arguing that the city really needs to focus on providing more housing and shelter and also specific types of shelter. For example , if we have a homeless senior , they're going to have different needs than someone who's , you know , 18 or 20 years old , homeless on the street. So they're really pushing more for an approach of providing more help. You know , saying basically , you know , this just could do more harm than good.


S4: And many , but not all that I've spoken with support this ordinance. They argue that their neighborhoods deserve relief from the quality of life concerns that have come with such a large , unsheltered population. So folks in East Village and Barrio Logan in particular , for example , have talked to me about , you know , sidewalks often being filled with homeless camps that they have to walk in the street to get around. They talk about trash and open drug use , and they really want relief from that and hope that this ordinance will give them some relief.

S1: You're listening to Midday Edition on Kpbs. I'm talking with voice of San Diego's senior investigative reporter , Lisa Halverson. Lisa , Mayor Todd , Gloria has been pretty vocal about the need for this measure. Has he tied this effort in any way to the housing shortage that the city faces ? Well.

S4: So the mayor talks often about how San Diego's affordable housing shortage has really fueled our homelessness crisis. He's pushed for more affordable housing development , has pushed forward a number of initiatives to try to produce more homes. He's also really rallied behind applications to the state for homekey funds to pay for hotel acquisitions that could supply hundreds of homes for homeless people. But in terms of this ordinance , the focus really has been more on shelter opportunities , more temporary opportunities , though the city is certainly looking at trying to provide more permanent solutions for folks.

S1: How much do you think a lack of affordable housing fits into this bigger picture ? Because you know so many of the so much rather , of the current discussion on housing focuses on how people in the financial margins can so easily slip into homelessness.

S4: Well , this absolutely fits in to the bigger picture because rents are rising. I know a lot of your listeners who are renters know that very well and people who are making minimum wage or even middle class wages or seniors with fixed incomes , they often do not have extra cash available to take on these sorts of increases when they're also dealing with , you know , higher grocery bills , higher utility bills. You know , obviously , you know , we have have had gas prices that are that have been higher than in the past two. And so many folks live on pencil thin margins. So if they are dealing with increased rents , that's really hard. But then say that you also have a have a health issue that comes up in some unexpected bills. So I think many more people than we realize are on the brink of homelessness or at least housing insecurity.


S4: And some are literally concerned that lives should be or I should say lives could be at literally at risk if some of these disconnections happen. So , for example , many folks rely on outreach workers who provide overdose reversal drugs. It's called Narcan. And , you know , many people , for example , in that East Village area that I spoke about in the northern Barrio Logan area , you know , they are community where there's a larger concentration of users and there are other people in that community who are not users as well , but they are able to literally save each other on a regular basis. And so there's a concern about if people are dispersed , maybe they don't have access to Narcan or maybe there's not someone around to save them. When they have an overdose , there's also a concern that people may , you know , if they have to disperse and leave , particularly the East Village in Barrio Logan area that I've been talking about , that they could have a tougher time accessing public restrooms or meals that now they count on having. So there's there's a great deal of concern about this in the Advocate community.

S1: Does anyone expect that even if this ban does go through , it will have a tangible effect on homeless populations In some of the city's hardest hit neighborhoods like East Village and northern Barrio ? Logan Like you mentioned.

S4: There's a lot of debate about this. I think it's important to note , I was really struck by a comment that an unhoused man gave me a couple weeks ago. I was visiting the one of the storage centers in the area that we've been talking about and just asking him what he thought about the ordinance. And he said , you know , I think that , you know , initially people are going to to leave the area. But I think they're going to come back because this is just where , you know , where people can access services. So meanwhile , though , the mayor does argue that this ordinance should spur more people to accept offers of shelter. So and if there are more shelter options available , I believe that people will take advantage of it. But the city needs to deliver a lot more shelter to have a really make a serious dent in this problem. And as I said before , the police have also , you know , struggled to really consistently address homeless camps. There's also some concern that maybe this will simply make homeless homelessness less visible , but not really result in real solutions , because to address homelessness , you need to house people. And I think it's really important to to note that existing city shelters , shelters that we already have have really been struggling to get people housed. So I did a story a couple months back about shelter outcomes , and I found that for a period of time through I believe it was a six month period through February early this year , just 11% of people who departed city shelters moved into permanent housing , just 11%. That's a pretty low number. And it really speaks to the fact that there isn't housing for folks to go to after they get into city shelters. So if the city wants to add more shelter , it will also need to add more housing to ensure that people don't end up sitting in shelters waiting for months and even years for another place to go , which also has the effect of not opening up those beds for other people who might want them.

S1: And you know , Lisa , data from the regions latest point in time count for homelessness was just released. Can you give us a quick recap of the results there ? I think the results speak to what you were just saying. Yes.

S4: Yes. So. So the point in time count is conducted every year in late January. And so these are numbers from from that point in time. So in January , volunteers for the Regional Task Force on Homelessness counted 10,264 people that were sleeping in shelters or outdoors , and about half of those people slept outside or in vehicles. That's a 22% increase from last year and is the highest total in the last 12 years. I would note that this year one difference in the count was that the regional task force had access to some areas , some Caltrans property , that in years past they had had a tougher time accessing. So that certainly impacts the numbers , but this is a very dramatic increase. There was a 26% increase in street homelessness. But I do want to say , you know , there's often in San Diego so much focus on this point in time count. And I think a number that is perhaps even more important and startling for us to think about actually is the number of people who access homeless services in a given year. And what I can tell you is that number is nearly 21,000 people in the last fiscal year , which is about double the amount of people that were counted in a single point in time. And that speaks to a huge crisis and a lot of people who need help.

S1: I've been speaking with Lisa Halberstadt , senior investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. Lisa , thank you so much for your insight.

S4: Thanks for having me on.

UU: What do you.

S1: Think are good solutions to the housing crisis ? Do you agree with SB ten ? What about encampment bands ? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave a message or email us at midday at And if you ever miss a show , check out the Midday Edition podcast. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

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A house for sale in San Diego.
Tom Fudge
A house for sale in San Diego.

Just like the rest of California, San Diego is grappling with it's own housing crisis. A new law could change the landscape of how homes are built in the city, but it's not popular with everyone.

Plus, a buying spree by a massive property group is generating concern for local renters, and a controversial new proposal could ban homeless encampments.


Muhammad T. Alameldin, a Policy Associate for the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley

Wendy Fry, reporter for CalMatters

Lisa Halverstadt, senior investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego