Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Father Joe’s works to help people find shelter

 August 30, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, August 30th.


How a Father Joe’s Villages team helps people move off the street and into shelter. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


It’s going to be another scorcher in the county today.

The National Weather Service says the heat could be potentially dangerous.

An excessive heat warning for the county’s inland valleys and desert areas ends at 8 tonight.

Temperatures are expected to reach the low 100s in the county’s inland valleys, in the deserts, temps will be around 114 and in the mountains, it will be in the low 90s.

If you need a place to cool down today, there’s a list of cool zones on the county’s website.

Forecasters say there is some relief for the rest of the week, as temps start to cool down a little.


The construction of a new billion-dollar Rady Children’s Hospital building is underway.

The 7-story Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Services Pavilion will have a new emergency department, advanced pediatric, neonatal and cardiac I-C-Us, and more.

According to a statement from the hospital, the facility will also include child-friendly areas, and single patient rooms with space for

caregivers to stay.

It’s scheduled to open in 20-27.


A 35-day streak of increases to the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the county has come to an end.

The price rose nearly 42-cents a gallon over the last month.

It was the longest streak since March of last year.

A petroleum analyst says, nationally, the average price of gas has fallen over the last week because wholesale prices have been under less seasonal pressure as the summer driving season ends.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in the county is about 5-dollars-and-36 cents.

That’s 32 cents higher than last month.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


The city of San Diego began enforcing its unsafe camping ordinance about a month ago.

That has resulted in fewer homeless encampments downtown, but there’s still not enough shelter beds for everyone who needs one.

Reporter Melissa Mae recently rode along with Father Joe’s Villages street health outreach team to learn more about what it takes to help people move off the street and into shelter.

If you’re ever in downtown San Diego, you may see a bright blue and orange van drive by… But it’s not just a van, it’s a lifeline for people experiencing homelessness. Michelle LeFever Father Joe’s Villages “We don’t give up on people no matter what. We have clients, like I said, somedays they’re willing to work with us and they’re   willing to accept our help and then they aren’t, but no matter what, we don’t give up on them. We keep coming back, even when they don’t want us to.” That’s Father Joe’s Villages Street Health Team Outreach Worker Michelle LeFever. The team’s daily interactions start with offering what they call tools of engagement. Michelle LeFever Father Joe’s Villages “Hey guys, anybody need some water and snacks? (YES!) Supervisor Jennifer Wilkins also trains clients to use Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses. Jennifer Wilkens Father Joe’s Villages “You can do a sternum rub to see if they have any signs of life and if not you can take out the second dose and then do another dose in the nostril. But make sure that you are calling for emergency services or asking someone to help you. (Ok, thank you.)” According to the county medical examiner 214 unsheltered residents have died from overdoses so far in 2023, most were from fentanyl. Steven Brown has been living on the streets for the last six months. Steven Brown Unsheltered Resident “Without them I couldn’t be walking right now. My leg was really infected. It was bad and it was hurt. They looked at it and said, ‘Hey, we have a solution for you.’ And they gave me medication and everything I needed. I couldn’t have done it without ‘em. I didn’t know what to do without ‘em.” Every day is different for the team, but one thing is always consistent, they make an impact in the lives of homeless San Diegans. Jennifer Wilkens Father Joe’s Villages “We see people physically heal. We see people's health get better because they started taking their medications. We see people start practicing safer use practices and so their use is causing less harm.” And sometimes that impact builds trust and leads to success stories like Ruthie Lavinia Wilson’s…  Michelle LeFever Father Joe’s Villages “She was always so inebriated I couldn’t help her get her documents to get permanent supportive housing. It took me over a year to get her birth certificate.” After a life filled with traumatic experiences, Wilson says she lived on the streets in San Diego for the last three years. Ruthie Lavinia Wilson Former Unsheltered Resident “I was raped at 15. I had a baby and my parents put me out and I’ve been abused and I was left out in the desert for dead. My ex-husband, he pulled both my arms out of their sockets and I decided to become homeless so he couldn’t find me.” Ruthie Lavinia Wilson // Former Unsheltered Resident “One thing led to another, I ended up sleeping outside of Ralph’s on the street. These guys came in and swooped me up and they came every week to make sure they found me and take care of my wounds.”  The San Diego District Attorney’s office says people who are homeless in San Diego are 12 times more likely to be assaulted than the general population. Ruthie Lavinia Wilson Former Unsheltered Resident “You don’t want to get beat up. You don’t want to get raped. You don’t want to get robbed cause it’s all a possibility. You don’t sleep because you’re afraid to sleep.” But recently Wilson moved into her own apartment. Jennifer Wilkens Father Joe’s Villages “Ruthi! Wow! (This is my place). This is amazing! With her receipt for paying her first month’s rent in hand Wilson credits LeFever for never giving up on her. Ruthie Lavinia Wilson Former Unsheltered Resident “She made it a point that I didn’t fall through the cracks.” Getting people into housing is the ultimate success for the street health team, but LeFever counts all the milestones. Michelle LeFever Father Joe’s Villages “They want to have the conversation of, ‘Hey I want to get clean and sober. Can you help me?’ And we’ve helped people and I’ve delivered people to detox, to rehab and I’ve watched them successfully finish and successfully move on with their lives.” In the last year, the team has helped move about 20 people into permanent housing and almost 60 into shelters. But in July more than 1,500 people were living on the streets of downtown San Diego. Melissa Mae KPBS News.


A court dispute has stalled the process of replacing Randy Mize, who retired as public defender in June.

Investigative reporter Amita Sharma says a local judge is alleging the county has misinterpreted a key statute in a way that disqualifies him as a candidate.

Superior Court Judge Michael Washington applied to be the county’s next public defender in June. But the county won’t consider him for the job because of its interpretation of a 1947 government code. The statute says a person isn’t eligible for the office unless they were a practicing attorney in “the year preceding the date of his election or appointment.” But Washington’s lawyer Michael Conger says the law is unclear. “It could mean in the exact year before, or it could mean at least one year experience, which is what I think it means.” Conger says Washington worked for 19 years as a deputy public defender in San Diego and 10 years on the bench. “....He's imminently qualified, and it would be ironic if that's interpreted to mean a 26 year old could get the job, but not a very experienced person.” County officials did not respond to a request for comment. Washington’s case will be heard in an Orange County court to avoid any conflict of interest since he is a sitting judge in San Diego. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


A quarter of a million dollars from the Biden administration infrastructure bill is coming to Vista.

North County reporter Alexander Nguyen has more on what local officials plan to do with that money.

train noise with trains … cars … buses … bicyclists … and pedestrians … vista village at the vista transit center is very busy. but with 2-hundred fifty thousand dollars from the department of transportation … the city of vista can finally do something about it. the city is using the funds to study grade separation for the tracks at the transit center. grade separation is when tracks are lowered to cross underneath roads without impeding street traffic. currently … solana beach is the only city in the county with grade separation between the tracks and the roads. carlsbad is also looking at doing the same. longtime train commuter noe castilla supports the plan. noe castilla train commuter “ i think it's a good idea — helping traffic while the train station is still going. so you have two methods of transportation moving equally.” and it will help make the intersection safer for pedestrians. according to the latest report by the san diego county medical examiner’s office … 14 people were killed on the tracks in the county in 2021. an/kpbs.


Coming up.... County leaders have published a blueprint on ways to address the childcare crisis. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


San Diego County wants to help find solutions to the childcare crisis.

County leaders yesterday published a blueprint on ways to address the issue.

Reporter Tania Thorne says the plan aims to help parents looking for affordable care as well as give providers a liveable wage.

County supervisor Nora Vargas says the average annual cost of infant care in CA is nearly $17,000. Almost $9000 more than tuition for an in-state public college. But at the same time, child care providers are facing staffing shortages. Childcare workforce are also struggling to earn a livable wage and that’s not acceptable. Research shows that in SD county the median hourly wage for child care providers is $15.11. Vargas says the next steps are to go after funding and support. Childcare has to be a public good. It shouldn't be something that only moms, or parents are thinking about. Politicians have to think about it, business owners have to think about it. Educators have to think about it together so we can find a solutions because it impacts all of us. County leaders will work on the plans over the next two years.. TT KPBS News.


As the excessive heat warning continues for much of the county, school districts are keeping students protected and their families informed.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has the story.

School districts in North and East county are dealing with some of the most sweltering inland temperatures. In Poway Unified…Mount Carmel High School has moved all P.E. classes inside…or outside to the school swimming pool…to keep students safe. Kaden Patel is a freshman playing basketball in the air conditioned gym this week..“I go outside a lot but not recently because it’s so hot…I also have baseball practice later and it’s going to suck.” The Santee School District reported more cases of students complaining of heat-related illness… All campuses are air conditioned and the district has reached out to families with a list of precautions to stay safe at school and at home. mgp kpbs news.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

KPBS recently rode along with Father Joe’s Villages street health outreach team to learn more about what it takes to help people move off the street and into shelter. In other news, a quarter of a million dollars from the Biden administration infrastructure bill is coming to Vista. Plus, San Diego County leaders published a blueprint on ways to address the childcare crisis.