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New "Safe Haven" Homeless Shelters

 August 26, 2021 at 5:39 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, August 26th. >>>> San Diego’s new approach to tackling homelessness More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### Hospitals all across Northern california -- from Crescent City on the coast to the Sierra foothills and Sacramento - are all setting up surge tents to deal with the influx of covid-19 patients...again. Dr. Brian Evans is CEO of Dignity Health’s Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass valley. “we’re clearly back in a crisis situation related to covid-19 and the delta variant. it’s causing significant impact to hospitals across the region.” Statewide, the number of people in intensive care units is currently as high as last febuary, and has been sharply increasing. ##### Smoke from wildfires in northern california has now drifted into san diego county. Alex Tardy is a national weather service meteorologist and a former science operations training officer. “so those sensitive groups with allergies or asthma or other types of illnesses, you’ll probably be the ones mainly affected by the smoke.” He says the air quality in San Diego county will continue to deteriorate into thursday. ####### There’s a new way to be warned of a pending earthquake. it’s called “Shake Ready SD”... it’s a free phone app made by the county. It works with more than 770 earthquake sensors throughout the state. Here’s San Diego county supervisor Nathan fletcher. “it could give you a number of seconds to be able to move your family, your friends into a safe place to help avoid serious injury.” To get the free app, just go to your app store and search “sd emergency app." ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. San Diego officials are taking more steps to address the chronically homeless. Plans are underway to open what’s known as harm-reduction model shelters. KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more. Cover some of this at the beginning with the encampment stuff 00:11:48:04 Gloria I think every san diegan would acknowledge that the problem is not visibly getting better and as a consequence we have to try different approaches and this is what we’re doing San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and county of San Diego officials are working to open new kinds of homeless shelters, ones that aim to help those with severe substance addictions-- Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor This is not a time to tell people who are willing to raise their hands and accept services that they can’t come in and if that means bringing someone in who is heavily intoxicated or in other kinds of active conditions that have typically or historically been barriers to admitting them into the service what the city and the county are saying is no we want to work with you The new harm-reduction shelters follow a month-long homeless outreach push in the downtown area. San Diego already has several “bridge shelters” where 100 or more people are staying in group settings, but these new shelters -- called “safe havens” -- are designed to be smaller, housing 25 to 50 people in individual rooms. 00:00:48:24 Fletcher To really bring online a new capacity that doesn’t currently exist County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is partnering with Gloria to make this a reality -- he says right now many shelters won’t let those in who aren’t sober or committed to being sober.. But he says that drug use won’t be allowed inside these new shelters. 00:03:57:14 Fletcher People aren’t going to break the law in a government funded location but it’s about having an open door policy come as you are in whatever state of mind you’re in we welcome you in and we’re going to infuse that location with services Fletcher says people may be staying there for a significant period of time. 00:07:52:20 Fletcher I don’t know that someone who’s been on the streets for a decade that has chronic severe alcoholism it’s going to take some time and that’s why we did an initial five year investment in this project 00:05:34:15 Fletcher We’ve got to make that investment, we’ve got to make a sustained investment The county has committed to supplying specialized outreach teams and it will split shelter operating costs with the city. 00:03:17:19 Fletcher We want multiple locations and look it’s very challenging matt everyone wants to you to solve homelessness as long as you don’t do it anywhere near them and so this is difficult to identify locations, to find locations to get them going City officials have been tasked with finding locations for the new shelters, nothing has been announced yet, but Gloria says community-buy-in is key for their success. 00:06:30:18 Gloria I promise you that we can accommodate this into a community that improves the neighborhood reduces the number of unsheltered in the surrounding area 00:06:44:10 Gloria I believe that we can do this in a way that uplifts the neighborhood and doesn’t harm it Gloria says these harm-reduction model shelters have been the missing ingredient for success here. 00:07:57:18 Gloria We know that when we do that it is far more likely that we can break that cycle of addiction address the underlying mental health concerns and ultimately get this person stably housed and off the streets for good that’s a part of the notion behind when I say I want to end chronic homeleness this is how you do it The city is using American Rescue Plan funding for the safe haven shelters, then Gloria wants to approach the city council to fund them long-term. 00:10:17:23 Gloria It’s a gap in our system and a part of why we aren’t seeing the change we want to see in every one of our neighborhoods -- a part of why we’re spending more than we ever have but we’re not getting the results that we want we want different results we’re choosing to employ different tools and I think we’ll be proven successful He says the pilot shelter program is designed to get people who are chronically homeless off the streets, a goal that’s shared by Fletcher. 00:04:50:21 Fletcher We know that if we bring you in we make that initial help to say hey we care about you we want to get you some help that that will lead to the outcomes that we think are best but it’s a very different approach and path The city and county want to open the shelters as quickly as possible, but right now the timeline is fluid-- Gloria says it’s important to get them right the first time. 00:13:04:10 Gloria It could be a city owned facility staffed by county workers, and that could be it. It could be a private facility with city and county teams with nonprofit partners as well so we’re open on that suggestion because at this point in time we need to get this up and running we need folks to start getting served in these safe havens MH KPBS News. ########## Local doctors and health experts are petitioning county leaders to call for indoor masking again. Even the San Diego Superior Court has reinstated all staff and potential jurors wear masks while inside. KPBS Reporter Melissa Mae gives us an update on mask wearing in San Diego. San Diego County is now the largest county in California that has not reinstated a mask mandate. Dr. Eric Topol “We should have a mask mandate.” Dr. Eric Topol is the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and says the delta variant is highly transmissible between people even in outdoor settings. The whole country is currently struggling through its fourth wave of COVID. Dr. Eric Topol // Scripps Research Translational Institute “While we’re in it, there’s so much circulating virus to deal with, the best thing we can do is up our protection to the max and we’re not doing it generally and that’s a problem.” Dr. Topol is not the only medical professional who thinks the County needs to mask up again...The San Diego County Medical Society and the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties are calling on the county to reinstate mask mandates. Even the superior court houses in San Diego county now require everyone to wear a mask inside. Lorna Alksne “We’re doing it to help everyone that accesses the court.” Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne ( of the San Diego Superior Court cites the delta variant for masking up her courtroom. Lorna Alksne // SD Superior Court Presiding Judge “We can’t be open if we don’t have our employees here. If people have to quarantine, if judges can’t come in, if the deputies and the defendants and the litigants. We just need to keep everybody safe and the best way during this delta surge is to keep everybody in masks.” We again asked San Diego County whether a mask mandate would be reinstated… they told us they continue to monitor the situation. For most indoor settings, masks are required for those who are unvaccinated and recommended for those who are vaccinated. Masks are required for everyone in public transit, K-12 schools and healthcare. Melissa Mae KPBS News. ###### Asylum seekers will be forced to continue to remain in Mexico following a new order by the US Supreme Court. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more on the high court’s ruling. The U-S Supreme Court says the Biden administration has to reinstate a Trump-era policy known as Remain in Mexico, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols. The Policy says migrants have to stay in Mexico while they wait for their U-S immigration court dates. President Biden lifted that policy shortly after taking office, but now the Supreme Court is saying Biden’s decision to end the policy was arbitrary and cah-prih-shess. Saman Nasseri, Nasseri Legal Immigration Attorney Suh-mon nuh-sary “It’s the same exact standard they used back when Trump was trying to get rid of DACA. the exact standard was used that if you can't make a compelling argument, why should this order be lifted.” SUH-mon NUH-sery a local immigration attorney says his clients will have to stay in Mexico. Many of whom are living in shelters and encampments in Tijuana. The Court's decision was a result of lawsuits filed by Texas and Missouri who said lifting the policy placed a burden on local governments who were faced with an influx of migrants. NUH-sery says some progress was being made. Saman Nasseri, Nasseri Legal Immigration Attorney “Some of those cases were starting to move forward. Some people were starting to get paroled in and complete their cases on a case by case basis. But for the most part it has been extremely hectic.” He says the pandemic has placed many obstacles for asylum seekers including a backlog in the courts. Saman Nasseri, Nasseri Legal Immigration Attorney “Some of them haven't seen a judge for over a year. They haven't had their case called. We’re going beyond the pandemic, people waiting down there for a court date and there's still waiting for their number to be called, no one has contacted them.” Nasseri says there’s a lot of work that lies ahead with thousands waiting for their immigration cases to be heard. Saman Nasseri, Nasseri Legal Immigration Attorney “You have thousands of people here in the U.S. who are waiting for something to happen there so the Biden Administration is fighting the immigration battle on more than one front.” Alexandra Rangel, KPBS News. ########## Coming up.... California’s Republican party is hoping to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in next month’s recall election, just as voters replaced Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. “It’s hard to imagine the enthusiasm everyone felt having someone like Governor Schwarzenegger, the terminator, show up.” That’s next, just after the break. With another recall election this Sept. 14th, the state GOP is hoping to do it again ... but was Schwarzenegger’s tenure ultimately a win for the party? KQED politics correspondent Marisa Lagos has this look back... KQED's Marisa Lagos 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.

Plans are underway to open shelters in San Diego that provide safe haven for people with addiction issues. These harm reduction model shelters are new for the city. Meanwhile, a leading local doctor thinks reinstating a mask mandate will help the county through this fourth wave of COVID-19. Plus, we look back at previous recall efforts in California ahead of September’s recall.