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Todd Gloria touts progress with ‘Homes for All of Us’ plan

 February 10, 2022 at 4:49 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

Mayor Gloria talks about new incentives to increase housing.

Speaker 2: (00:04)

This problem is so large. It requires a package of this size with the many different provisions that are in it to hopefully drive change.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Henman. This is K PBS midday edition. We'll hear how the new Sheriff's commander for San Diego jails will try to improve a troubled system.

Speaker 3: (00:30)

It's just looking at the recommendations. What have we been doing? What can we do better? And what can we change?

Speaker 1: (00:37)

Where is our hot, dry windy, weird winter are coming from and a conversation about the spirit of soul food, race, faith, and food justice. That's a head on midday edition.

Speaker 1: (01:02)

The San Diego city council has approved a package of reforms and incentives designed to increase housing construction, mayor Todd Gloria's homes for all of us housing package passed the council by an eight to one vote. The new regulations build on the city's efforts to make more construction possible. In developed areas of the city. New incentives would allow housing to be built on publicly owned land, near libraries and fire stations. It also makes it easier for employers to develop employee housing. Most city leaders applaud the moves, but some residents express concerns about how the new housing regulations will change their neighborhoods. And joining me is mayor Todd, Gloria, and welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: (01:44)

Thank you, Maureen.

Speaker 1: (01:46)

Now, what part of this package of reforms do you think will result in the most new construction?

Speaker 2: (01:52)

Probably the provisions that I'll have the city comply with Senate bill nine. This is the statewide law around duplexes, uh, which the city is implementing through the homes for all of us, uh, package of reforms, you know, that has the potential of converting some operating into duplexes. And in some cases, uh, quadplexes I think that's the kind of small scale density that is very accommodating in most neighborhoods in the city. Um, and now it'll be up to individual property owners, individuals, San Diegos, whether or not they choose to elect to do that. But there are a host of things here that, uh, you know, could result in significantly more housing. This problem is, so it requires a package of this size with the many different provisions that are in it to hopefully drive change on what is the problem. Most Sandy has talked to me about the unaffordable events, the unattainable home ownership and the rising rates of homelessness on our streets.

Speaker 1: (02:37)

Now, as I mentioned, part of your housing package, there's a measure to streamline housing. That's part of city owned facilities, like an apartment building with a public library on the ground floor, something like that. Do you have specific sites in mind for this program?

Speaker 2: (02:53)

Well, I think what this proposal results in is that every time the city moves forward with a branch library or a neighborhood fire station that will evaluate the site for suitability for housing. You know, Maureen, when I was on the city council, I was extremely effective in building new fire stations and libraries in my council district. My only regret with those very important neighborhood infrastructure projects so that we didn't put housing on top of them. So in communities like mission Hills, where we have a beautiful new branch library, it's one story tall, uh, sits on Washington street where they are building significantly taller than that. It was a missed opportunity to really leverage that public asset, to create an opportunity where maybe the branch librarian that works in that library could actually live in the neighborhood that they serve. Uh, so going forward, I think we'll be considering every project we do for suitability, for housing. And that's a good thing because we all already own the land. And when you take that cost out of the development package, that can result in significantly lower rents, rents that working people can afford.

Speaker 1: (03:47)

Uh, speaking about affordability, you said in your state of the city speech, that you want more new homes to be affordable for the middle class. Is there anything that would specifically require lower selling prices in your housing?

Speaker 2: (04:00)

Yes. This proposal includes the notion of taking some of our affordable housing programs that applied for low income housing and apply those principles from middle income housing, 80% area media income to up towards 150% area media income. This is middle class wages that are the kinds of folks who don't qualify for low income housing, but can't afford luxury housing. What that would do would be to give developers the incentive to build those units and indeed restrict them, uh, so that we do actually see rents that are attainable for average people. Maureen, I also think things like Senate bill nine will create more naturally affordable housing. We can't provide enough public subsidy to create the amount of housing we need. And so allowing the market to bear this by building smaller homes that may have fewer amenities, but actually achieve home ownership. That's what's in this plan,

Speaker 1: (04:47)

Let's talk about Senate bill nine, which you've mentioned a couple of times. It, it of course changed single family zoning and allows up to four units to be built on those lots. But in this particular new city housing package, it won allow any granny flat incentives, any of the city's incentives to be used to develop those lots. Why not?

Speaker 2: (05:07)

At the end of the day, Maureen, what we want to do is make sure that we're producing more housing, but in the case of those subsidies that you're talking about, you know, many folks raise the question about whether or not those were appropriate. What we're saying is that we would waive development fees on the first granny flat, but on think more than that, if someone's building two or more, that they would have to pay developer in fact fees, I think that's a reasonable, uh, modification to address some of the concerns that we hear from this proposal. That's really only been in place for a year, but this is a, I think reflection of my commitment to continue listening to the community and modifying, uh, our policies to match what we're seeing on the ground. Now that's a modest modification or in compared to the breadth of the changes that are in this proposal.

Speaker 1: (05:46)

And the ADUs of course, are the accessory dwelling units commonly referred to as granny flats, just for people who are listening. So just to be clear, would you say that not having the city incentives for granny flats in SB nine here in San Diego is an effort to slow down the development of multiple units in single family neighborhoods?

Speaker 2: (06:06)

I don't think so. I mean, I, I realize that every nickel counts, uh, when you're doing projects of any kind, but what we're saying is is that the production of these units in over the last few or so folks have raised the question about what are the impacts to the broader community and working with council, president ILO Rivera, uh, and other members of the city council. They believe that when you have multiple units beyond the single one, that those can have impacts. And so we want them to pay their park fee, their fire station fee, et cetera, and we're gonna do that. And I think that that's a reasonable accommodation for, or, uh, these impacts in communities. But Maureen, I, I always wanna focus on the impacts that are often not quantified the impacts of families that are split up because the children or grandchildren can't afford to live in the communities that they were raised in the impacts when we don't have working class and middle class people to help staff our libraries, you know, check us out at the grocery store. The hacks that we often talk about are in terms of infrastructure and that's important, but this plan really is intended to really think about those often overlooked impacts that I think have the risk of really detrimentally hurting our economy and our quality of life.

Speaker 1: (07:10)

Another question about how new state laws will be adapted in San Diego, you'll soon be asking the city council to opt in to S 10. And this is a state law that lets cities streamline the construction of apartment buildings with 10 units or less if they're near transit or job centers. So my question is, are you planning on applying this law to every lot that's eligible or are there some areas that you wanna leave untouched?

Speaker 2: (07:35)

We're still working on that policy? Um, we are going to include it in our second package, uh, that I intend to bring before the city council later this year. But right now, you know, Maureen, the size of our housing affordability crisis is enormous. Uh, and I think that we have to be as open-minded as possible on accommodating this important piece of statewide legislation, Senate, bill 10 here in San Diego. Uh, but you know, there will be a public process. We will work with community groups, community planning, organizations, affordable housing advocates, and importantly, the city council to figure out what works best for us. Just as we have done with the state ADU laws, as we've done with Senate bill nine, we'll do the same with Senate bill 10, but it is my full intention to opt into this voluntary statewide program. And by doing so, the city of San Diego will be doing our part to address the statewide housing crisis. And I hope that other cities will follow our lead. I believe they will.

Speaker 1: (08:21)

Now mayor, do you have a number in mind as a target for how many new homes you'd like to see generated by the homes for all of us housing package?

Speaker 2: (08:30)

Well, Maureen, it's not so much up to me anymore. You know, the state through our regional housing needs assessment, uh, gives every jurisdiction a number to hit and we've been given a very substantial number it over the next number of years, we are currently zoned to produce those units. But what we see is that we need to provide incentives to actually create them. But Maureen, I think the question for me and what these policies we're advancing are intended to do is to make sure that we're not building only luxury housing that no one can really afford or, or just a handful of subsidized units for the very poor amongst us. We have to make sure that as we work to meet our arena, target that we're building, working in middle class housing, one of the, I think important parts and most exciting parts and homes for all of us is an incentive for developers to build units that have three units or more for families in San Diego who look around and see a lot of studios, one in two bedroom apartments. They don't see a place for themselves here in San Diego and homes for all of us has an incentive to build more family style housing. So we will meet arena targets, but we'll do it with a housing mix that is much more reflective of the diversity of our city and send the message to people who are working hard every day, that there is a place for them here in San Diego.

Speaker 1: (09:35)

Do you have a timeline on how quickly we might see these new developments start? You know, the, the developments in, on public land, the developments for ADU granny flats to really start to add to our housing supply.

Speaker 2: (09:52)

That's tough to say because we didn't get into this problem overnight Marine and where certainly not gonna get it out of it overnight. Either. What I am is incredibly impatient on this matter. I recognize that the first the month comes every 30, 31 days and San Diegos are really caught in a bind. I take lessons from my experiences, a city council member. I worked for eight years to update the north park community plan. We got that done in my last city council meeting, uh, that I serve as a city council member. And here we are about five years after that. And you're starting to see the development in communities. That's not fast enough. We have to do better, but suffice to say, you know, it's going to take some time, but what we have to do is give people hope. And when I talk to San Diegos right now, a lot of them don't have the hope that they can afford to live here, afford to buy a home here, raise a family here. Uh, and that's, um, unacceptable. And what sands have is my ironclad commitment to continue to work on this issue every single day, so that we can put a roof over everyone's head at a price that they can afford.

Speaker 1: (10:49)

I've been speaking with San Diego mayor, Todd, Gloria, and mayor Gloria. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2: (10:53)

Thank you, Maureen

Speaker 4: (11:09)

San Diego county jails will have new oversight. The Sheriff's department is promoting there Adams Heidar to lead the detention service bureau. Later this month, this news comes just days after California's auditor published its investigation of county jails. Finding the Sheriff's department failed to adequately prevent and respond to the deaths of individuals in its custody. 185. People have died in custody over the last 15 years, which is among the hight of the California jail systems and assistant sheriff there. Adams hider joins me now. Welcome. Thank you. As I mentioned, the state auditor released a report that was critical of the practices of staff working in county jails. Uh, here are some of the findings from that report instances where people asked for or needed medical and mental health care and did not get it, or didn't get it in a timely manner in adequate safety checks. And the people responsible for investigating in custody deaths are not doing so in a thorough, timely or trans parent manner. What is your response to this report?

Speaker 3: (12:15)

It was hard to take. It's always hard to take information that shows that maybe we weren't living to the standards that was expected. And I recognize the need for us to look at some of these recommendations in that audit and follow through with some of the ideas that have come through. In addition to continuing the ideas that we had already put into the play within our jail systems to make it a safer environment for those incarcerated individuals. So really it's just looking at the recommendations, what have we been doing? What can we do better and what can we change? And maybe open a different set of eyes to look at processes that weren't as good as they should have been or can just be improved.

Speaker 4: (12:54)

And I wanna ask you separately about the number of people who have died by suicide in custody, 52 people over the last 15 years, more than twice the number in other large counties in the state when asked about this former sheriff gore attributed this to the high number of white inmates in county jails, who are statistically more likely to die by suicide. He said, uh, do you agree with that assessment

Speaker 3: (13:20)

At this point, since I haven't really jumped in with both feet into the detention setting, I don't know enough to speak to that. I do know that incarcerated people are at risk of many things. And of course we're dealing with some people that may have, uh, mental health be issues already before coming to the jail, as well as being in an environment that's new and, and maybe scary for them or some that have been in and out of the system for many years. And at this point, I'll definitely be looking into what we can do to reach out to those people who are at most risk of mental health, crises and suicide. For sure.

Speaker 4: (13:54)

And what will you do as assistant sheriff to address the issues raised in the report and prevent future deaths in county jails?

Speaker 3: (14:02)

I know there's a lot that has been done by the previous command under assistant sheriff Frierson. A lot of great programs have been put in place and a lot of recommendations made by this audit. I think definitely we're gonna look at bottom line, where do we need to start and what can do to make some really, um, recommended and needed improvements in our facilities. There are a lot of law statutes that we need to follow as a detention facility and looking at how we can use the resources we currently have and identifying ones that we didn't even know that we could seek or use going forward. And that's gonna be probably my team. We are gonna sit down and start prioritizing where we need to put new staffing infrastructure changes, new equipment, new wifi in the facilities to make sure that inmates have access to what they need for mental health care, medical care, their visits, to maintain their outlook on life and not only listening to the community, but I know there are families of incarcerated persons who have expressed their concerns and I'm willing to listen to what they have to say, issues that they may have.

Speaker 3: (15:04)

And I would like to hear what they have to say.

Speaker 4: (15:06)

And you know, much has been said about the role that jails play in addressing the men, mental health challenges and services of inmates. What are your thoughts on this role? And do you think it needs to be refocused in any way?

Speaker 3: (15:18)

This is a tough one and I don't think jails are necessarily where that needs to happen for years and years, law enforcement has kind of become that if you don't know where to go call 9 1 1, I think the San Diego county's been doing a really great job moving towards a direction where mental health is very important. It's on the forefront. I've been working with, uh, health and human services on the mobile crisis response team, recognizing the need for other outlets, for individuals who need help, who are in crisis. The gel is basically a microcosm of San Diego county, and those people are also gonna need mental health treatment. And I think partnering in the future with health and human services and other entities addressing the needs of that population is very important. And I'm hoping that we can make some really good partnerships with mobile crisis response team, getting them connections. As we know, people are leaving custody, making sure they still have the resources and that they're not leaving custody and not know what they're do. Likewise, if someone is receiving mental health treatment and then they become an incarcerated person, how do we keep that continuity of treatment going? Even though now they're in the facility, I think that's really important. And it's something that I'm gonna work towards.

Speaker 4: (16:26)

And you'll be stepping into this role with 27 years of prior experience in the department. Uh, what will you bring to, to this position with that experience?

Speaker 3: (16:35)

I have worked numerous positions in the Sheriff's department. Most of my career was in the law enforcement side, but I did start as a detention deputy early on. I've hired people as a background. Sergeant I've worked in internal affairs. So I've dealt with the accountability side and the corrective action side I've worked in investigative fields. So I think my experience after 27 years with the different types of disciplines and law enforcement, as well as working with a myriad of stakeholders out in our community, whether it's mental health or addiction or just other community groups. I have a lot of friends, associates, colleagues who I think I can pull on to kind of help me see the, a bigger picture and bring resources in necessary equipment and personnel to our incarcerated population to make sure we're providing the safe, uh, environment for them at all times.

Speaker 4: (17:25)

And you've certainly touched on this, but this is obviously a critical moment of transition for the department. You're stepping into this new role after bill Gore's retirement. What kind of leadership do you think the department needs as it looks for a new sheriff?

Speaker 3: (17:39)

I respect sheriff Goran. What he's brought to the table. I think, uh, acting sheriff Kelly Martinez is really trying to focus on our people, not only the people who work in our department, but that includes our incarcerated population as well. I think collaboration is a big key. As I said, we are a community partner in San Diego county, the Sheriff's department, and we need to really work with our partners of all types, of all kinds of all disciplines to bring resources to a new eye, to what's, to what we need in, in not only the Sheriff's department, but specifically our jails and, and assist us. And I think our ear is open. My ear is open. Uh, any future leader that is in this department needs to have that open ear and open eye to what the community wants expects and the perceptions we need an education and adult back and forth with that same population. And I think that's what a leader needs to, to bring to the department. At this point,

Speaker 4: (18:35)

I've been speaking with there Adams, Heidar the new assistant sheriff of the detention services bureau, commander Adams, hier. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 3: (18:44)

Thank you for your time.

Speaker 4: (18:45)

This San Diego county Sheriff's department is also currently involved in a class at action lawsuit, filed by the a C L U alleging inadequate living conditions and medical care.

Speaker 1: (19:05)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heman. San Diego is set to break records today for the heat. We are in the grip of a dry windy Santa and a heat wave in the middle of winter. Temperatures could reach 90 degrees along the coast with upper eighties and nineties sprinkled inland as well. A heat advisory is in effect through this afternoon. How long will our heat wave blast? When will it rain again? And will we be getting a little winter in our winter, joining me as national weather service, meteorologist Alex tardy and Alex, welcome back.

Speaker 5: (19:41)

Thanks for having me on

Speaker 1: (19:43)

How unusual is this type of Santana heat wave in February?

Speaker 5: (19:47)

Yeah, it's very unusual and I'm sure that's on everyone's mind right now. Now is it winter? It's kind of one of those things where you gotta pinch yourself after yesterday's heat record high 85 in San Diego today expecting even hotter along the coast. So this is very rare. We're talking temperatures 20 to almost 30 degrees above their averages for February.

Speaker 1: (20:13)

Why is this happening?

Speaker 5: (20:14)

Well, uh, with weather patterns, you know, whether it's rain, snow, cold, warm, it's typically something going on across the globe, or at least the United States that's extreme. And this case, we have a strong Santana wind, which is not on of in February, but we also have this massive dome of hot air along the Pacific coast or the California coast. And those two are combining to produce these record hot temperatures. If we had a similar weather pattern in July, we would still be talking about record high temperatures.

Speaker 1: (20:53)

What's the connection between Santana's conditions and climate change?

Speaker 5: (20:57)

Well with Santana's, they're a little bit like El Nino and LA, so they, they kind of occur, you know, independent of climate or, or climate change. They're they're seasonal. So they occur every year, but they don't almost occur the same time or the same frequency. So in other words, you know, Santana's typically peak out in December and January are fire weather conditions typically, typically peak out in October in November. And these type of events in general with climate changes are expected to change a little bit. Um, we're actually going to see less of 'em, but they could be more severe. So in other words, their impacts such as hot temperatures and driving fire weather conditions could be more severe, even though we see less of them. The reason why we might see less is just because Santa Annas are driven by cold air over the great basin.

Speaker 1: (21:56)

So is this hot weather happening all over Southern California? There's a brush fire in Laguna beach. Are we in danger of that here?

Speaker 5: (22:04)

Yeah. So fire weather conditions, you know, we've been talking about the, this for a while, since the rain stopped on January 1st, but we've now gone almost six weeks without seeing really much rain at all, uh, or snow almost anywhere in California. So Southern California typically goes first in terms of fire weather conditions, deteriorating. And, and we're seeing that over the past week, the dead fuel moisture, which is the fuel laying on the ground is at all time record lows. We do have some green grass on our Hills, some flowers, but not much from the rain in December. So our fire weather threat is definitely real. And I think that's extremely evident with what just happened in Laguna beach with a brush fire erupting near homes. There

Speaker 1: (22:49)

Is there a red flag warning in effect down here?

Speaker 5: (22:52)

There's no red flag warning in effect because it is February and the grasses are green, but, uh, we're getting into a territory. Now, the longer we go without rain and the more hot weather and dry weather we have, where we potentially could go into a territory to qualify red flag warning. Nonetheless, we do have high winds across the San Diego foothills and mountains. Most of us are feeling that with the very dry air, probably on your skin, your sciences and the temperatures. So the combination of those two are making for what we call elevated fire weather conditions. And it's, it's a very rare, and it's hard to believe though, it's February and we're talking this extreme

Speaker 1: (23:35)

Is today expected to be the peak of this heat wave.

Speaker 5: (23:39)

Today's the peak of the winds. So today's the peak of the offshore Santana winds, which means basically we can't get a sea breeze. We won't see that natural cooling from the ocean, the natural air conditioner, because the San Anne winds are pushing it out the sea, literally, today's the peak of that. So yeah, on the beaches and the immediate coast, I think today's the hottest day, but for a lot of other areas, just a mile or two inland, we still could see similar temperatures around 90, on Friday and Saturday, even though we lose most of that Santana wind.

Speaker 1: (24:12)

Yeah. You touched on this now. There's some very different weather in the forecast for next week. Tell us about the change ahead.

Speaker 5: (24:19)

Yeah. So a little bit of good news. A storm system is coming down from Alaska. So it's basically are gonna go up and over this dome of warm air, that's giving us these record hot temperatures. It's gonna come down from the north swing through quickly. So that means two things. It means drastically colder next Tuesday, Wednesday, all areas, uh, mountains everywhere. It means some precipitation showers, uh, don't get too excited, little bit of snow in the mountains for sure. Showers, wedding rain that is helpful for our fire weather conditions, but it doesn't look like a long term change. So it also is gonna bring more wind ahead of it and behind it across all of California when it comes through Tuesday and Wednesday short lived.

Speaker 1: (25:05)

Wow. Oh, okay. Thank you. I've been speaking with national weather service meteorologist Alex tardy. Thank you so much.

Speaker 5: (25:12)

Thanks again.

Speaker 4: (25:18)

The growing homeless population is more than what providers and city leaders can handle. And now some want to create a new way to help those who and help themselves. KPBS reporter Tanya thorn says it would mean changing conservatorship laws.

Speaker 6: (25:33)

When you hear conservatorship, you likely think of Brit Spears and the free Brit movement. When do we

Speaker 7: (25:38)

Want free Brit?

Speaker 8: (25:40)

When do we want it?

Speaker 6: (25:41)

Now? Her conservatorship came to an end last November after 14 years, But there's another type of conservatorship that some lawmakers see as a tool to combat the homelessness crisis,

Speaker 2: (25:54)

Right? We're not talking about an extremely wealthy, very famous, uh, celebrity. We're talking about the sickest and most vulnerable people that live on the streets of San Diego and on the streets of cities across the nation,

Speaker 6: (26:06)

San Diego mayor, Todd Gloria wants to expand the current conservatorship law to force more mentally ill homeless people to go into treatment and get off the streets. Right now, the law says people who courts rule as gravely disabled can be placed under conservatorships, which means they can be placed in care against their will

Speaker 2: (26:25)

For a portion of these folks, they end up in the criminal justice system, uh, which I hear very clearly from the public they are not comfortable with. Um, and there has to be some choice other than leaving them on the streets or incarcerating them in prison. We have to have a better option.

Speaker 6: (26:40)

He thinks the gravely disabled definition could be expanded, but providers say even if more people can be forced into care, there aren't enough places for them to go. Michelle cab is with the county behavioral health director's association of California.

Speaker 9: (26:56)

How does anything change the day after that law is fine. If we don't have more treatment beds, more housing, more funding for services.

Speaker 6: (27:06)

Gabriel says people stand a better chance at long term recovery. When they enter into services voluntarily,

Speaker 9: (27:13)

The vast majority of people, including people with serious mental illness and or substance use disorder needs voluntarily willingly accept both services as well as housing when it is offered to them. Our problem in California is that we have a major deficit of housing that meets the needs of very low income Californians.

Speaker 6: (27:40)

Greg angel is the CEO of interfaith community services.

Speaker 10: (27:44)

Far too often. We have to ask somebody where did you sleep last night? And is it safe to sleep there again? Because help is not available today.

Speaker 6: (27:53)

He says addressing conservatorship reform before expanding resources is a backwards way of thinking.

Speaker 10: (28:00)

So until we have access to these resources, taking away way people's rights who want to access those, those resources, who, but who can't just is, is, is going too far and is not something we would advocate for.

Speaker 6: (28:12)

Carrie Suza has been homeless since 2016 and knows she suffers from a mental illness.

Speaker 11: (28:18)

You know, I let them know that I, you know, that I have, that I have a mental illness and that I, that I need help with my medication. And I need to see, I need to have a, um, an eval, you know, but I don't think a lot of people know to say that

Speaker 6: (28:29)

She questions, what will happen if someone rejects a conservatorship,

Speaker 11: (28:33)

What if you don't wanna do what they're asking you to do? You know, is that gonna, is that gonna, you know, affect me negatively? You know, am I now not gonna get the services that I need? So that would be pretty perfect.

Speaker 6: (28:45)

Every Wednesday Suza goes to a humanity showers event for a shower, food and clothes, Jordan vine, who runs the program is worried that conservatorships could violate people's trust

Speaker 12: (28:56)

And coming out here and speaking to people, you'll get to see a lot of the underlying issues are really deep rooted in trauma and displacement. And this policies will actually perpetuate the trauma deeper by displacing them and removing them from their communities.

Speaker 6: (29:13)

But mayor Gloria says the problem can continue as it has. Something has to be done

Speaker 2: (29:19)

In San Diego. See it every single day of people who are clearly not capable of caring for themselves being left on the streets with they're vulnerable, sick, in some cases dying, it's absolutely unacceptable. We have to do something different.

Speaker 6: (29:31)

He will spend the next year working to change the law. Tanya thorn KPBS news.

Speaker 1: (29:49)

The first years of a child's life can set the course for a lifetime. The first five first steps program has been working in San Diego for almost 10 years to help parents provide the at good foundation for their children. The pandemic has created many challenges for the program, but also some opportunities. The south bay region of first five first steps says an influx of funding means the program can help 100 more families and enrollment is now open joining me as Michelle favela. First five first steps program director in the south region. Michelle, welcome to the program.

Speaker 13: (30:26)

Thank you, Maureen. It's great to be here.

Speaker 1: (30:28)

What kinds of services come with enrollment in the first five first steps program?

Speaker 13: (30:33)

So with our first five first steps program, as a name states, we are partly funded by first five San Diego, as well as county and state funds, which allow us to provide free services to families. And we are mainly a family support program. And our vision is that every child reaches their full potential and that parents can feel confident and connected in their role as caregivers. Most common topics that we touch on is learning about child development, all of the developmental milestones, like when a child will walk or talk, be potty trained, the parenting strategies, being able to make healthy choices about children's nutrition, lowering stress, finding adequate childcare and preschool. And we offer home visits to families in San Diego county, but more specifically in SP C S through the south region, formally known as south bay community services since 23.

Speaker 1: (31:23)

Now it's clear how these services getting good nutrition, proper care helps babies and toddlers, but it sounds as if this program also helps parents, is that right?

Speaker 13: (31:34)

That's correct. We mainly work with parents who are expecting to have a new baby or parents of newborns because it's crucial during this time, right? We know that by the time a child turns three, their brain is 80% developed and our services provide that support in helping the children, problem, solving, communicating self control and helping the parents and navigating that journey through parenting, whether, if it's their first baby or if they have older children already now

Speaker 1: (32:01)

Who qualifies for the first five first step program,

Speaker 13: (32:04)

Most of the families we serve have limited social supports. So for example, military families, newly arrived immigrant or refugee families, teen parents, families with limited income. So basically expecting parents and parents of newborns.

Speaker 1: (32:20)

How did the program continue to help families during the pandemic? I mean, you have had to cut back on things like home visits, right?

Speaker 13: (32:27)

Yes, that's correct. We had to be quick to be able to adapt services to what was needed. So we immediately stopped in person visits and we were able to shift to this virtual world, right. And supporting families to get connected to the virtual platform, doing frequent phone calls. So we tried to keep it as close as possible to our in person services, which meant, you know, still trying to keep that eye contact, even through video, still being able to provide, uh, certain materials sometimes for activities, dropping it off as a no contact to the parents at their home. And then connecting virtually to be able to guide that activity still providing handouts potentially through screenshots or through email, as opposed to a paper. So we were very creative and our families were very creative too. And sometimes propping up their phones in a way that they could still participate and having to hold the phone the whole time.

Speaker 1: (33:21)

Can you tell us how you've seen the first five first steps program make a difference in a family's life?

Speaker 13: (33:28)

I have been working with the program since 2013. So I've gotten to work with many families, either firsthand or hearing about it through other colleagues. So we definitely families who come to us sometimes, like I mentioned, with limited supports. So the first questions that we ask is what do they need before we can really get into talking about development and that relationship building and bonding and attachment. We have been able to connect families to those resources in the community, such as, you know, connections to housing supports, connect to food, distribution slides, connections to potentially in certain situations, a DV shelter. So that continuous support through somebody who is listening to a family on an ongoing basis and being able to help them navigate through those uncertainties. Then we can also get into all of those topics of development in that relationship building with their baby.

Speaker 1: (34:22)

Now, why is the first five first step south bay region able to offer support to more families? Now

Speaker 13: (34:29)

We have been very fortunate to receive additional funding and that has allowed us to be able to grow our team. So we currently have a team of 13 families support specialists that are serving the south region only. We also serve San Diego county as part of the larger team through the other different agencies and regions. But in the south alone, we have 13 family support specialists

Speaker 1: (34:50)

And you're looking for 100 more families to enroll.

Speaker 13: (34:53)

Yes, that's correct.

Speaker 1: (34:54)

What's the overall goal of the program. When do you feel like you've succeeded

Speaker 13: (34:59)

In our main vision of the program? We want every child to be able to reach their full potential, right. And making sure the parents are feeling confident and connected to their role as caregivers. So when we feel a parent is like, you know what? I, I think I got it. I know if I have a new difficulty coming up, I know where to start. I am resourceful. I know where to go. That is the point where we start feeling like we can pull away a little bit. So again, we always wanna strive for self sufficiency. We wanna make sure that they know where to access services, where to access resources, how to be self advocates for their children. And I think that that's the point where we feel like we have made a difference in their lives

Speaker 1: (35:39)

And how can families enroll.

Speaker 13: (35:42)

They can enroll by contacting us through our email address that is first They can also call us at (619) 650-1597. And they can also go to our website for more information, which is www first steps,

Speaker 1: (36:02)

I've been speaking with first five first steps program director in the south region. Michelle favela. Michelle, thank you so much.

Speaker 13: (36:09)

Thank you.

Speaker 4: (36:20)

You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Maureen Kavanaugh reimagining how we eat to support food. Justice is the subject of a new book called the spirit of soul food, race, faith, and food author, Christopher Carter, who is also an assistant professor of theology and religious studies at the university of San Diego. Joins us to talk about his new book, Reverend Dr. Carter. Welcome.

Speaker 14: (36:45)

Thanks for having me. So

Speaker 4: (36:46)

Tell me about your book and what inspired you to write it.

Speaker 14: (36:49)

The most important thing to know about the book from the beginning is that it really is a, a way for me to express a journey, um, that I went on trying to discern a, how I should eat based upon my own particular kind of moral identity formation. I was curious as I began to learn more about environmental injustice and the relationships that had to racial injustice and the experience of my grandfather and ancestors with respect to just the exploitation of their labor as black people, I saw connecting in ways in which that weren't initially evident to me. And so I decide just to, just to learn and explore, you know, um, the backgrounds to black food ways and the, and the backgrounds to the development of our agricultural system and what role, uh, black people, and then just people of color have played in that.

Speaker 4: (37:36)

What was the most life changing thing you discovered as you embarked on this journey and wrote this book?

Speaker 14: (37:43)

Ooh, so I do wanna purpose this by saying the book has many happy, has many happy stories as well, but among the most life changing soul altering things I cut in the book is my research on plantations, particularly Louisiana, which is where my father's side of my family from. And just looking through archives, looking through resources and learning just how, uh, enslaves really had dehumanized black people to the extent that, you know, they were very specific about the kind of black person they wanted, right? So like if they were gonna be buying someone to work in the rice fields, you know, in north Carolinas, they were gonna be looking for black people from a particular tribe, you know, the Sy Gambia region, um, in west Africa, if they're gonna be looking for black people who are gonna be good with cattle, they're gonna be looking for another, you know, to buy a black person from this particular tribe. And so there was a, you know, a science to it from their perspective that was very much wrapped up in, you know, capitalism. And, and I think I just didn't consider the depth through which that, that nuance was brought to this particular process and how they had dehumanized black people to that. That was, you know, Jay, that was probably among the hardest things I had to read and write throughout the entire process of about five years writing this book.

Speaker 4: (39:04)

Hmm. And you pretty much sum it up there, but, but talk about the ways in which race food and food justice connect.

Speaker 14: (39:13)

Yeah. I think the history of food in, in the, the growing of food in our country has wrapped up in, in racial hierarchy, you know, beginning with the genocide of indigenous peoples and the confiscation of lands both legally and illegally, the development of learning, how to, you know, grow certain foods, starting again with indigenous folks, teaching European coal, onus, how to survive when they come to America. And then the beginnings of the plantation where you import this kind of African agricultural knowledge, that shows folks that teaches, uh, Europeans again, how to cultivate these crops in particular ways. And that kind of hierarchy stays in place. There's this assumption within the way we construct our food systems in America, that people of color in particular are the kind of folks who are good laborers, who are good for tending the land right, for growing the food necessarily, but not necessarily owning the land or being in charge of, of the means of production of food.

Speaker 14: (40:13)

And so from the, the beginnings of our country, uh, raised in the racial hierarchy, plays a huge role in it. And we, we see that today, if we ever drives down the five, you see the ways in which those spaces are populated by predominantly Latinx, um, immigrants and just the racial hierarchy that's in place in that, in that space. Now with respect to religion, I think the role religion can, has historically played in this is either normalizing. Unfortunately, some of the conditions that people have been placed in that put them in positions to where they are working for in, in these conditions that we would know to be inhumane or as a mechanism by which, uh, can be used to argue for justice, right. For these people. So you think of someone like CVI who's deeply and profoundly moved by his Catholicism, right? Like his notion of what it means to be connected to God is wrapped up and also what it means to be able to grow and serve food. That's connected to this sacred source, this, this land, as you would call it. And, and, and, and so, so there's a way religion can, can be deeply involved in multiple ways, but racial hierarchy has always been involved. And we see that being played out today in terms of the implications and impact of those historical injustices

Speaker 4: (41:23)

In your book, the spirit of soul food, you talk about re-imagining what soul food could be. Tell me about that

Speaker 14: (41:29)

For me, re-imagining soul food begins with saying, okay, how, and in what ways might I eat today in a way that does honor to my ancestors, that actually, uh, also contributes to the alleviation of suffering. And so I argue in the book for something I call, uh, soulful eating of which veganism is an, is an important part of it. Part of the reason I argue about veganism is the ways in which I've already discussed this notion of the animalization, the dehumanization of people of color. And there's a way in which this is wrapped up in our industrial agricultural system, particularly factory farms and the ways in which they are still structures of racial hierarchy that disproportionately harm people of color. So reimagining soul food really is about recreating recipes and purchasing food and, and cooking foods in ways that is ancestors, but also takes seriously the contemporary implications of our global food system.

Speaker 4: (42:27)

So gimme an example of a dish that does that. What's your favorite soul food dish?

Speaker 14: (42:32)

Uh, it's red beans and rice it's well, it's tough. It's really close between red beans and rice and, and dressing. So I'm, but red beans and rice, again, you know, again from Louisiana. So, you know, I grew up on a lot of beads of rice, a lot of gumbo, a lot of greens, um, cornbread dressing was like a, um, treat that my mother would make from time to time. And, and so one thing I, I should also say too, is because my family was poor. Um, we just didn't eat a lot of meat. We ate a lot of beans cause that's what a lot of poor people eat. And so for me, it was really just about removing the meat products that I would put in that. And either substituting it with meat or not, you know, when I eat our beans and rice, it takes me back to that place. When I was growing up, it gives me that sense of comfort, that sense of connectedness. And so that effective dimension of what it means to be in community. I think that's what we find in soul food. That's what we find in soul. And I have some recipes in the book that offer some opportunities to do that, but there's tons of other, I'm not really a chef. I just like to cook. That's what I told them when I put them in there. So I just gave

Speaker 4: (43:35)


Speaker 14: (43:36)

I love to eat now. I love to eat, so I love to eat.

Speaker 4: (43:39)

So what do you hope people walk away with after reading your book?

Speaker 14: (43:42)

My hope is that, you know, people read the book and they're moved by the compassionate framework that I use and, and that they have some hope and they have some tools. So they know what to do in their own lives to begin to address issues with food injustice.

Speaker 4: (43:54)

I've been speaking with Christopher, for Carter, an assistant professor of theology and religious studies at the university of San Diego and the author of the spirit of soul food, race, faith, and food justice, Reverend Dr. Carter. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 14: (44:09)

Thanks for having me.

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San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s “Home for All of Us” plan will build on the city’s effort to make more construction possible in developed areas of the city and makes it easier for employers to develop employee housing. Plus, the Sheriff's Department promoted Theresa Adams-Hydar, a 27-year veteran of the department, to oversee county jails. Also, with the number of unsheltered people growing in San Diego, some city leaders are contemplating changing conservatorship laws to get more people off the streets and into treatment programs for various mental health issues. Meanwhile, the first years of a child’s life can set the course for a lifetime. San Diego’s “First 5 first steps” program can enroll 100 more families in the South Bay. And, San Diego is in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave. When will we see temperature returning to normal? Finally, reimagining how we eat to support food justice is the subject of a new book called “The Spirit of Soul Food: Race, Faith And Food” by USD professor of theology and religious studies Christopher Carter.