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Coordinating Outreach To San Diego’s Homeless

 March 11, 2021 at 5:14 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday March 11th. A New Approach To HomelessNess In San Diego More on that next, just after the headlines…. Starting Monday people ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions will be able to get vaccines. Meanwhile, state officials say --- once 2-million vaccines have been distributed --- they would shift the threshold for covid-19 reopening tiers. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says if we hit that 2 million mark next week…. Which means there’s a high probability and likelihood that next wednesday we will descend into that red tier. We obviously have to wait until next tuesday but we feel confident that will happen. The less-restrictive red tier would allow businesses to reopen for indoor operations at a limited capacity, more schools could reopen, and, after April 1st, fans could be welcomed back to Petco park for in-person padres games. The Governor’s office says the massive new federal coronavirus relief bill will pump more than $150 billion into the state's economy. Nearly half of that money will be $1,400 stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits. Another $26 billion will go to the state government. About $16 billion will go to local governments --- split between cities and counties, according to the Associated Press. More showers are expected in San Diego today, along with snow fall in the mountains. The rain is part of a slow-moving storm system that could linger around into Saturday morning in some areas. National weather service officials are warning that the snow in the mountains could make travel difficult, particularly around interstate 8. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced a new coordinated effort to help the city’s homeless. KPBS reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler tells us this begins with an approach that no longer centers on law enforcement. San Diego will move to coordinate all its efforts through the “People Assisting the Homeless” or “PATH” program, sending out a coordinated team of caseworkers assigned to different neighborhoods, to build rapport and trust with the homeless community…. The new PATH outreach teams, made possible by City Council funds allocated last summer, will send twelve outreach specialists into communities across the city…. To both provide help to those who have been living on the street long-term and those newly experiencing a crisis. They will help them overcome the unique challenges, whether it’s drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, physical health problems or other legal entanglements. Instead of ticketing, enforcement, and homeless sweeps, Gloria says the city will now lead with a “housing first” model that has worked in other cities across the world…. Connecting people with immediate services. And that was KPBS’ Max Rivlin Nadler. Nursing homes in California began reopening this week to in-room visits but with restrictions. KPBS Reporter Amita Sharma says the reopening comes one year after the state locked them down. The California Department of Public Health now says fully vaccinated residents in purple tier counties, like San Diego, can visit with loved ones in their rooms if the visitors tested negative for Covid-19, two days prior. Fully vaccinated visitors can now hug, hold hands and help with feeding and grooming of fully vaccinated residents. In a letter to nursing homes, state health officials acknowledged the impacts of the one-year lockdown writing, “Residents may feel socially isolated, leading to increased risk for functional decline, depression, anxiety and other expressions of distress.” Mike Dark, lawyer for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, called the state’s new visitation rules a milestone. But he said requiring visitors to test negative within two days of seeing a resident is challenging. 2:05 “What’s kind of frustrating about that is if you want to see a resident everyday in a facility, you’re effectively going to have to get tested everyday which is a lot of testing and it’s not necessarily testing that will be provided by the facilities,” The restrictions will loosen when San Diego drops into a lower tier for Covid-19. And that was KPBS’ Amita Sharma. Some North County school districts are taking the state to court over the right to reopen schools on their own timeline. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne gives us the details. It’s close to a year since many students have been in classrooms, and now some North County parents and school districts are taking legal action to get them there. Scott Davison with the Carlsbad Parents Association helped organize a lawsuit against the state after it rejected school reopening plans. “They had plans, they had dates, they were ready to go and then the state decided to step in for some arbitrary reason and shut everybody down. That’s when our lawsuit was redirected at the state and that’s where it is right now.” The 6 North County districts involved are Carlsbad, San Dieguito, Poway, Oceanside. San Marcos and Vista. Davison says they hope a judge will overturn some of the state rules in place now. And that was KPBS North County Reporter Tania Thorne. There’s a lot of delayed maintenance on city streets right now -- potholes and…. Broken streetlights...A recent city report says San Diego would need to spend 264 million dollars over the next five years to fix and upgrade streetlights. It’s money the city doesn’t have and some residents aren’t happy. inewsource investigative reporter Mary Plummer has the story. Sunset Cliffs is home to one of the best views in the county. Each evening people flock to the coastline to watch the sun dip below the Pacific Ocean. OCEAN AMBI, dog barking But residents and visitors say repairs are needed along a busy (CAR NOISE AMBI) stretch of road …. and a popular sidewalk … that has multiple streetlights out: There have been a few nights when my husband and I have come and walked and we did notice how much darker it is That’s Point Loma resident -- Fatima Rasnick -- who comes to the area for evening walks. One homeowner says she’s reported the problem nearly two dozen times but the city has yet to fix the lights. About 8% of the city’s 54,000 streetlights have open fix-it requests. There’s not an easy solution -- the streetlights are aging and tough to fix. And expensive, says San Diego Councilmember Joe LaCava. LACAVA: This is just one element of the infrastructure picture in our city that really has some very daunting numbers. LaCava says even a tax or fee increase wouldn’t cover the full cost. That was Inewsource Investigative reporter Mary Plummer. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS. Coming up..... The San Diego county board of supervisors is ordering an independent review of the Covid-19 Hotel Sheltering Program. This follows an inewsource investigation that found poor care, and mismanagement. That story’s next just after the break. San Diego county supervisors have ordered an independent review of the Covid 19 hotel sheltering program. The program, which is nearly a year old, provides shelter to people who need to isolate because of exposure to Covid-19, or who are homeless. A company hired to solve earlier allegations of mismanagement at the Crowne Plaza isolation hotel in Mission Valley, is now facing allegations of mismanagement itself. Reports of inadequate care, untrained staff, hostile security guards, and frequent police calls, surfaced in an iNewsource investigative report late last month. iNewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh about the review…. That was Inewsource investigative reporter Cody Dulaney, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh. The San Diego Latino Film Festival kicks off today (Thursday) with films on two screens at the South Bay Drive-In. But the majority of the films will be presented online. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with exhibition manager Moises Esparza about programming the festival and shares his top picks. That was Beth Accomando speaking with Moises Esparza. The San Diego Latino Film Festival begins tonight (March 11th) and runs through March 21 both online and at two outdoor venues. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

San Diego will begin coordinating homeless outreach efforts by sending out teams of caseworkers to different neighborhoods to build trust with the homeless community. Meanwhile, nursing homes in California are re-opening for visitors with restrictions. And, some North County school districts are taking the state to court.