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Record high homelessness

 January 13, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, January 13th.

The number of homeless people in San Diego is at record highs. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The latest COVID numbers aren’t showing a bump from the holidays.

33-hundred new cases are being reported this week, down from last week’s 46-hundred.

Plus, Covid-related hospitalizations aren’t comparable to this time last year.

There were over one-thousand San Diegans hospitalized last January, and the latest numbers show just over 400.

Flu cases are also continuing to drop after an earlier start to this season.

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Asylum seekers applying for protections in the U-S now have to register through a mobile app.

The C-B-P One app is free to use and available in Spanish and English.

Migrants will use the app to schedule an appointment to enter the U-S.

According to Customs and Border Protection, the app is meant to facilitate safe and orderly arrivals.

For now, the app will be used to process asylum seekers at eight ports of entry along the U-S-Mexico border… including San Ysidro.

Immigrant rights activists are concerned about language and technology barriers.

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The city of Encinitas has closed access to one of its beaches.

The city says the main support beam for the steps to Stonesteps Beach has become structurally unsafe, and needs to be replaced.

There's no word on how long it will be closed.

The city says people can visit Moonlight or Beacons Beach in the meantime.

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

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The number of people living on the streets in downtown San Diego is at record levels.

The downtown San Diego partnership has documented a new record high every month since August.

Last month, more than 18-hundred people were living on sidewalks and in vehicles in downtown.

And countywide, more people become homeless than are re-housed each month.

Bob McElroy is the C-E-O of Alpha project, which provides services to homeless residents in San Diego.

He spoke with KPBS’s Jade Hindmon on Wednesday.

What are your thoughts on this latest count for downtown San Diego - this is the fifth consecutive month of record high numbers.

You’ve been working in this sector for quite some time - do you think there’s anything particularly difficult about tackling this issue now, as opposed to what’s been done in the past?

In your opinion, what are some of the most important steps that need to be taken in order to make a noticeable difference in this issue locally? 

That was Bob McElroy, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.

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Later in the day, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced during his state of the city address that he signed an executive order to drastically speed up approval of 100-percent affordable housing projects.

KPBS got reaction to the announcement.

Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe’s Villages says he wants to see if the executive order will truly make a difference.

 “If we can streamline the processes for housing, if we're able to do that, then we're going to cut the expenses that's associated with the construction and development of housing and we’re going to get people off the streets sooner.”

Paul Krueger of Neighbors for a Better San Diego says current efforts to build more affordable housing are ineffective … and misplaced.

“The units that his policies are building do not provide transitional, very-low and low-income housing. And until the mayor and the council acknowledge that we must build more truly affordable housing, we’re not going to make a dent in the homeless problem.” 

Vargas from Father Joe’s also says the region needs more shelter beds, with a wide variety of different options outside of congregate settings.

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Crews in San Clemente are still working to shore up eroding bluffs under the train tracks along the coast.

But some residents are criticizing the way the work is being done.

They took their complaints to the Orange County Transportation Authority, which is in charge of the repair.

“By focusing on armoring instead of replacing the sand its like a heart attack victim relying on drugs and cpr rather than lifestyle changes.” 

That's Gary Walsh of the group “Save Our Beaches.”

He told the O-C-T-A Board of Directors, preventative measures are needed.

“Instead of dumping more rip rap in anticipation of this threat to the tracks, is replacement of sand.”

An O-C-T-A spokesman told KPBS, the focus right now is getting the tracks up and running, which might not happen until the end of next month… depending on the weather.

Then, he said, they’ll look at long-term solutions.

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Coming up.... Need plans for the weekend? We have some weekend arts events worth checking out. We’ll have that, and more, next, just after the break.

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The San Diego Humane Society is in the middle of a crisis.

They are way over capacity when it comes to adult dogs.

So starting today, they’re waiving adoption fees for dogs seven months and older.

And if you’re struggling to keep your pet, they can help there too.

The Humane Society’s Nina Thompson tells us how.

“Our pet pantry that's open six days a week where you can come and pick up a free bag of dog or cat food any day… We have our new community veterinary program that offers reduced or free veterinary care so that you can keep your pet instead of giving them up to the shelter.”  

More information about all of that is found on the San Diego Humane Society’s website.

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It’s Friday!

That means KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans has a look ahead at this weekend’s arts events .

That includes an exhibit showcasing clothes made out of sauce packets.

YES! SAUCE PACKETS!

Here’s Julia speaking with KPBS’s Jade Hindmon.

What kind of sauce packets are we talking about? Tell us about this very unique exhibit.

Is there sauce in the packets?

Let's stay in the north county for one more. At the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego's North campus, there's a special event with their visual "artist in residence" and one of San Diego's own composers. What can you tell us? 

It's a big weekend at Bread and Salt, too, with a few events and openings. What's going on?

That was KPBS’s Julia Dixon Evans, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

You can find details on these and more arts events, at KPBS-dot-ORG-slash-ARTS.

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That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by KPBS Senior Producer Brooke Ruth and Producer Emilyn Mohebbi. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. The podcast will be back Tuesday. Thanks for listening and enjoy your long weekend.

The number of people living on the streets in downtown San Diego is at record levels. In other news, the San Diego Humane Society is over capacity  and is waiving adoption fees for dogs seven months and older. Plus, we have some weekend arts events worth checking out.