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$12B Toward Housing California’s Homeless

 May 12, 2021 at 4:53 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday May 12th. >>>> Big money for California’s big homeless problem More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ######## The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine on children ages 12 to 15. Dr. John Bradley is the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rady Children's Hospital. “We need enough people immunized so that if a virus is introduced to somewhere else, it doesn’t continue to spread. And of course if kids dont get infected, they cant spread it to grandparents and other members of the family” Today the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee will hold a meeting to review the use of the shot for this new age group, and consider giving it final approval. ######## Outgoing San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten was confirmed as the country’s next deputy education secretary on Tuesday. As second in command, Marten will oversee the day-to-day operations in the U.S. Department of Education as schools recover from the pandemic. Marten will serve under Secretary Miguel Cardona, the former Connecticut Chief of Schools. ######### Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr is injured, and also tested positive for COVID-19 this week though he is reportedly asymptomatic. The Padres made the announcement before their game in Colorado on Tuesday. Tatis Jr. was injured earlier this month with an inflamed shoulder. He leads the Padres with nine homers and 23 runs. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Governor Newsom was in San Diego on Tuesday to announce a $12 Billion dollar proposal aimed at tackling the state's homeless crisis. KPBS’ Melissa Mae caught up with the governor at the Kearny Vista Apartments. The governor’s stop at the Kearny Vista Apartments today was to highlight his commitment to fighting the homeless crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom “This is not just doubling down on strategies that we know work. This is an order of magnitude, investment into transforming the homeless crisis in the state of California.” The former Residence Inn Kearny Mesa is part of Project Homekey - a program that turns hotels, motels and apartments into homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Resident Lindsey Prescott was homeless, pregnant and an addict. She was given the opportunity to move into the Kearny Vista apartments. Lindsey Prescott, Kearny Vista Resident “Because the housing commission allowed for me, to let us live here, I got my daughter back. I’m 18 months sober and she’ll be 19 months old, 22nd of this month and I am beyond grateful.” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria fully supports Project Homekey. Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor “This is more than a home. It is the services that will keep people housed and ultimately break the cycle of homelessness. Providing things like case management, mental health counseling, employment assistance.” People in San Diego County experiencing homelessness saw a sharp rise last year. The Regional Task Force on the Homeless found more than 38,000 people received some form of housing and services - the most ever. The county proposes 85 million dollars to match the commitment to end homelessness by the State. And that was KPBS’ Melissa Mae. ########## With the recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom all but certain to happen this fall - candidates who want his job are...doing what they can to stand out. Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox is bringing a real, live Kodiak bear to campaign stops. And he was greeted in San Diego Tuesday morning with protesters, who say using a bear to campaign, is shameful. KPBS’ John Carroll was there. The theme of Republican John Cox’s campaign is right there on his bus… and this is the beast in question… a Kodiak bear named Tag. CG: John Cox/Republican gubernatorial candidate “The reason the bear is here is to demonstrate that we’re gonna have to be a beast to tackle these special interests.” Cox says Governor Newsom is captive to special interests… he pointed to Newsom’s dinner at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant last November with two lobbyists from the California Medical Association. Newsom apologized… he said attending the dinner was a mistake. Cox ticked off a number of issues he says Newsom has failed to address. “But Cox had company for this news conference. Animal activists from Lions, Tigers and Bears who only had one issue in mind.” It’s time to stand up and be the animals’ voice and stop using animals.” TRACK: SOT 9:4Bobbi Brink founded and now runs Lions, Tigers and Bears… an animal sanctuary in Alpine. CG: Bobbi Brink/Lions, Tigers & Bears Founder/Director “These animals are pulled as babies from their mama and then they’re used for nothing more than exactly this - to be trained and carted around from place to place in an enclosed trailer for nothing more than profit and exploitation.” SOT 9:25:43 - 25:50 “I’m an animal lover, I believe in taking care of animals. God gave them to us to enjoy this paradise on earth.” TRACK: Cox says it’s time to look forward and move beyond what he says is a failed Governor. He says Newsom has mishandled a number of issues including homelessness and the state’s exposure to wildfires. But Brink says when it comes to the treatment of animals, Cox is the one living in the past. “This is the old days and it’s the new days. We don’t need to use animals for this anymore, and the public doesn’t know - thousands of these animals are used like this and then dumped. TRACK: We’re in the midst of a 30-day period where people who signed the recall petition can withdraw their signatures. If enough remain after the withdrawal period, the recall election will move forward, probably in November. Five previous attempts to recall Newsom failed. ############ Governor Newsom’s proposed second round of stimulus payments for Californians includes money for undocumented workers. But many believe the money allocated to help the undocumented is not enough. KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler as more. North Park resident Luis had been out of work since being laid off from a restaurant last march at the beginning of the pandemic. He’s undocumented, so we’re protecting his full name. He was one of the 100,000 undcumented people who got an emergency $500 debit card from the state at the beginning of the pandemic. But since then, he hasn’t received any further support from the government, even though he paid taxes in the United States for six years. Undocumented people don’t qualify for unemployment insurance. It was tough for him to find work, even after businesses began to reopen. (put subtitles because sound quality is bad) Most of the places was closed. So it wasn’t like jobs available basically. Luis’s husband, a U.S. citizen, was also shut out from the first stimulus check sent by the government last summer, because he is married to an undocumented person. Congress changed that rule in December, allowing the household to get the full stimulus amount. On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new $500 round of stimulus payments for undocumented people, on top of a $600 payment approved by the legislature earlier this year. Luis said if he was to receive the total $1100, he would save it. Because he still doesn’t have access to unemployment insurance. If this kind of money arrive, I want to be able to save it, in case something else happen. Since we don’t know what’s going to happen. Rather save the money for next round in case something happened. This lack of security for undocumented workers won’t be solved by these checks, says Lucas Zucker, with the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. His group has been pushing for larger checks to the state’s two million undocumented people, while the state runs a huge budget surplus. LUCAS ZUCKER / Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy A one-time $500 payment, it’s important and it’s needed, but it’s not even enough to make one month’s rent for folks who are really struggling with job loss and have nowhere to turn. Luis has gone back to work in recent weeks, at a different restaurant from his old one — often working more than 45 hours a week. He’s watched as his old co-workers have been supported all year by unemployment insurance. To get nothing all year. It makes me feel angry, it makes me feel like less. He’s hoping that California will use some of its record-breaking surplus, to better compensate undocumented workers like himself. Max Rivlin-Nadler, KPBS News ########## A treatment proven to reduce hospitalizations and deaths in COVID-19 patients is being offered in San Diego -- but not enough people are taking advantage of it.. KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says officials are trying to get the word out. Family Health Centers of San Diego is expanding access to COVID-19 therapy that reduces the severity of the virus-- Lucatero Early onset of symptoms is key so as soon as they test positive we’d like to get them in treated right away Pauline Lucatero is director of nursing at family health centers and says the monocolonal antibody treatment is simple and fast, requiring just one visit to deliver proteins that attack the virus. Pauline Lucatero, Family Health Centers San Diego It takes about 30 minutes to infuse and we observe for about an hour just to make sure there’s no allergic reactions and if they do we’re prepared for that Make a fist for a me a couple of times Since December around 250 people have come in for the treatment between this facility in Chula Vista and another in Hillcrest-- One two three But at Family health centers can do much more and it’s also being offered free for those who don’t have insurance-- Lucatero We really just designed this to be as accessible to patients and to others as much as possible. And the key is to get everyone treated there’s shouldn't be any reason for any patients to get admitted to hospitals if we have this drug for them And that’s it Encanto resident Olga (B) Villanueva says the treatment was easy-- Villeana Esta bien no sente nada It was good I didn’t feel anything She says family health centers reached out to her after recently testing positive-- Olga Villanueva, Encanto Resident Me siento bien… infermerdar mas fuerte I feel good but I mean I took it precisely to prevent a much worse disease The treatment is designed for those most at risk and it can be used in kids as young as 12-- Hernandez It went good the process was easy 14 year old Leslie Hernandez tested positive after her mom, dad and grandmother contracted the virus.. Might be a little cold this is just salene So far she’s had mild symptoms including a sore throat and headaches, but says the treatment has really helped her mom-- Leslie Hernandez, 14-year-old receiving treatment She’s okay now she doesn’t really have any sym-- she’s way better than last week In addition to Family Health Centers, Palomar health and San Ysidro Health are also offering the treatment. Matt Hoffman, KPBS News. ########## Coming up.... San Diego City leaders say it will take time to shift police funding away from the police department and into social services and other public safety programs. Also, what happens now that gang injunctions are gone? We’ll have more on that next, just after the break. It’s going to take time. That’s the word from San Diego city leaders as they consider the task of shifting funding away from the police department to social services and other public safety programs. Some City council members are calling for a comprehensive analysis of how the police budget could be changed and funding priorities shifted. But is there enough time to consider initial steps now, before next year’s city budget is finalized? David Garrick is a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune who’s covering the topic. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh. Here’s that interview. And that was David Garrick, reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh. ############ Late last month San Diego DA Summer Stephan announced that her office was dissolving the last remaining gang injunctions in San Diego County. Those are court orders that limit the movement of alleged gang members. Race and Equity reporter Cristina Kim tells us what happens now that the injunctions are gone. Travis Smith hasn’t been to his grandmother’s house on J street in Southeast San Diego in over a decade. As we walk together towards the newly painted blue house, he stops. Well, like I said When I first walked up, it was just like, boom, you know, I got hit with so many memories. This is my daddy's house when he was a kid, you know what I mean? So definitely, you know, through the generations, you know, this is home. It's always going to be home. It will always be my home. But for 13 years the now 37-year-old Smith couldn’t go home. His name was put on a gang injunction… a court order that determined where he could and couldn’t be. His grandmother’s house was right in the middle of a restricted area -- meaning he couldn’t visit her without violating the injunction. In 2006, when his name was added to the gang injunction, Smith was a member of the West Coast Crips. He says he wasn’t a particularly active member of the gang, he just joined because that’s what young men did in his neighborhood. Years before, Smith had been convicted of gun possession, as well as drug possession and sales, But he says the crimes weren’t gang-related and he’d already finished his probation. Smith still remembers what went through his head when two gang officers knocked on his mother’s door and told him he was on a gang injunction. How is this going to work? How am I not going to go to this store that I've been going to for 20 some years? How am I not going to go to this park that I've been hanging out?You know, how? The main idea behind gang injunctions is if you make it extremely difficult for gang members to congregate or live in a community, they’ll eventually go away and the community will be better off. Smith says he understands the need to end gang violence, and he doesn’t make excuses about his choices. But he is among many who say that the injunctions have harmed far more people than they’ve helped. People like his grandmother, who passed away in 2010. They did a number, you know, but yeah, my family, I mean, not being able to see your grandsons, you used to seeing your grandsons out front, barbecuing in, you know, macaroni and cheese. And the next thing you know, you don't see them and you're older. I mean, that's the American dream, right? To get you a house and have your grandsons and your kids dwelling around. Right? Well, they took that from us. Many law enforcement leaders have come around to Smith’s way of thinking in recent years. San Diego County DA Summer Stephan began removing names from gang injunction lists three years ago. And in April, she announced that her office was ending all of the county’s remaining njunctions. The change in Stephan’s approach, however, has been slow. In 2019, she was against a recommendation by the city’s gang commission to immediately end injunctions. I may not act as quickly as somebody might like me to act because I have a duty to take thoughtful, considered action to make sure that I don't have collateral damage. She says the process of methodically reviewing cases for the past few years has changed her mind. Even though she’s still not convinced the injunctions didn’t reduce gang violence during their peak use. What I've learned is that you always have to be open minded to change and that things that worked in law enforcement years ago may be cast too wide of a net… For Smith, the scars from being caught up in that net run deep. And they won’t just go away because there’s been a shift in policy.... During the visit to his old neighborhood, he heads to Mullens Market & Liquor store on the busy corner of Imperial and 30th… it’s just a short drive from his grandmother’s house and another restricted area. As he looks at the building where his former church used to be, two police cars drive by and one parks across the street. This is the quote, the worst part, I'm not on an injunction, I'm not a part of the game. And just standing right here, I still feel like, you know what I am saying, even seeing this police officer. You know, that that's what I did when I was talking about that trauma from being jacked up from the gang suppression. This is it right here. How do you feel seeing that police officer? I mean I think he was coming for me. Smith is now a minister, whose been sober for 14 years and the father of four girls... he says institutions that upheld gang injunctions have a part to play in rebuilding. You've got to come back and you have to bring healing, which come back and bring it back a healing which you have. [00:39:03][10.9 After we part ways Smith will drive 20 miles to get to his current house. He’s still undoing years of conditioning that kept away from these places…. that used to be home. And that was KPBS racial justice and equity reporter Cristina Kim. 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.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed $12 billion in new funding to get more people experiencing homelessness in the state into housing and to “functionally end family homelessness” within five years. Meanwhile, Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Cox sticks with the live bear as part of his political campaign. Plus, San Diego officials say it will take time to shift police funding away from the police department into social services and other programs.