By Jeeni Criscenzo
My name is Richard Maccabe, I have a Bachelors Degree from University of Washington in Sociology…My approach is the TOUGH APPROACH! Anyone camping on public property – arrest them. They get a choice – go to jail, a vouchered hotel or go to my concentration camp, 75 miles east of here in (?) California with a fence and armed guards. The way to get them there is on the San Diego Imperial Valley Railroad in a box car with armed guards. You provide the three basics, food, shelter and toilet facilities and that’s it. That’s my approach and that will work because there will be no homeless on our streets. Last public comment at the Homeless Town Hall, October 26, 2016. (He was applauded!)
How do I write about a wrong without shutting down respectful communication with those who hold the power to block all efforts to find a humane solution to the growing number of people who are homeless in our region?
The way I found out about the Homeless Town Hall held on October 26 at Town & Country Resort and Convention Center should have been a clue that this wasn’t a serious effort to find solutions. It wasn’t announced through the usual channels that would reach those who are working every day for solutions to homelessness. There was a mention on the Facebook post of Homeless News San Diego, from Michael McConnell, a highly respected local advocate, who was one of the early leaders in the 25 Cities Campaign to End Homelessness, who had been asked to be part of the forum.
It took some digging to find details of the event on Facebook, where a subtitle called it, “A balanced approach for San Diego.” That should have been my clue – like FOX news, “balanced” has taken on a whole new meaning about expressing alternates to the truth not necessarily based on reality.
Other than McConnell, there were none of the usual names listed for the event. Their absence was as strange as the list of those who were attending: San Diego City Councilmembers Lori Zap, Mark Kersey, Chris Cate and County Supervisor Ron Roberts. None of them have supported any efforts to provide compassionate relief to those experiencing homelessness. So I just had to hear what they had to say.
I wish I could say I was surprised. I had secretly hoped that somehow these business-centric folks had a melting of the heart and were going to deliver on their promise of starting a dialogue and coming up with a unified plan to fight homelessness. Dialogue – yes, albeit very lopsided. Plan? Other than my suggestion during public comment to build tiny home pocket communities as a meantime solution, the only one to actually offer a plan of action was the Nazi quoted at the top of this article.
How the hell can you have a forum on homelessness without mentioning the one thing that makes a difference between being housed and not? The serious lack of affordable housing?
The first to speak and set the tone of the evening was Councilmember Lori Zapf. After acknowledging that this is a multi-layered problem and bemoaning that even communities such as Pt. Loma and La Jolla are being impacted by it now, she went right to the point – “This is a whole new, what we call, aggressive transient”. She went on to describe the scary people living on our streets, crazed drug addicts who have been released from prison due to Prop 47.
Prop 47 was the big bad boogeyman at this event. This ballot initiative, which was passed by 60% of voters in 2014, was intended to reduce overcrowding in prisons by reducing certain drug possession felonies and petty theft to misdemeanors. The general consensus of this crowd was that not locking up drug offenders was the reason we had so many crazed and dangerous addicts prowling our streets making life unsafe for moms to walk their children to the library.
“This is a whole new, what we call, aggressive transient”. She [Zapf] went on to describe the scary people living on our streets, crazed drug addicts who have been released from prison due to Prop 47.
Lara Easton from the City Attorney’s office complained that Prop 47 was supposed to provide $100 to $300 million to deal with the impact, but so far no funding has been provided. Citizens just don’t feel safe! What’s more, according to Joe Terzi of the San Diego Tourism Authority, tourists don’t feel safe! Nobody once mentioned that the people who no longer have a place to live, don’t feel safe – until I had my chance to speak.
Another word that was never mentioned until I said it: housing. How the hell can you have a forum on homelessness without mentioning the one thing that makes a difference between being housed and not? The serious lack of affordable housing? 2% vacancy rate? Outrageous rents and low wages? The fact that 22,000 school children are reported homeless in San Diego County? None of this was mentioned.
So as I said earlier, I really don’t know how to write about this without alienating the very people I need to go begging to for permission to implement real solutions. This crowd thinks the way to end homelessness is to put everyone who finds themselves without a place to live in prison…or worse.
Video of Town Hall Meeting
bob dorn says
Homelessness belongs in the same breath as global warming, police killings, unconstrained money in politics and health care, taxes that reach no higher than the middle class and the hundreds of military bases we plant worldwide. All these nightmares (and more) have to do with the deliberate misappropriation of national resources as a movement that calls itself conservative seeks to do away with the federal government. All these nightmares require a restoration of humane decency as a value, and, Jeeni, your piece advances that notion a couple of steps. Thank you for that.
Anna Daniels says
So now we have superpredator transients? Zapf should be ashamed of herself, resurrecting that particularly noxious canard that had been applied to black men in the 90s with devastating results.
Criminalizing homelessness is grotesque. But a citizen suggesting concentration camps and cattle cars as a(final)solution?
The town hall meeting was the Portrait of Dorian Grey, San Diego style. Jeeni,you must still be washing off the stank.
Lori Zapf is an IDIOT. She first ran on a tort reform platform and she’s in the palm of developers and the moneyed in San Diego. I live in Bay Park and she does NOTHING for our community – saving all her “leglislating” for La Jolla and Point Loma apparently. All of the electeds and the tourist guy have no capacity for thinking outside the box to come up with real solutions for our homelessness problem. I also hear that Prop 47 is the cause of all ills but frankly, do we prefer jail and prison for non-violent offenders (mostly poor and of color) rather than trying to do something about jobs, housing, education and medical care? Ron Roberts is another goober – the Board of Supervisors wield great power and have significant resources yet they are stingy with financial resources for underserved communities. Oh wait, Prop B is going to provide affordable housing so let’s have the homeless community work with the Lilac Hills development folks to provide some of those 1700+ units for the homeless…NOT! Thanks Jeeni for the great report.
Respect! THANK you
Martha Sullivan says
Jeeni, Thank You for attending this farce and reporting on it so powerfully. We are learning that playing nice only gets us more lip service. I understand your conundrum. I’m increasingly convinced that the answer is to relentlessly show these frauds and hucksters for what they are. Thank you for being on the front line with me and many others.
La Playa Heritage says
Thanks Jeeni for attending the Homeless Town Hall Meeting meeting in Mission Valley.
A great way to confront the fraud from Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego City Council is for a non-profit organization to submit a legal claim regarding the lack of Post-Audit Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) of the Successor Agency (SA), Oversight Board, and LMIHAF Audits missing since FY-2012 to the present. The only way to get any forced communication from the City is to file an Official Legal Claim.
Also the San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) has failed to include all Non-Fee related sources of Revenue.
OMG. What a ridiculous charade! Thanks for letting us know about this farce
La Playa Heritage says
The three Cs to Ending Homelessness in San Diego includes a Champion, Collaboration, and Compassion.
It looks like our Prayers have been answered. Hope is Restored.
Dan McSwain’s Investigative Journalism in the San Diego Union Tribune nails the problem. Lack of Leadership and Financial ambiguity. Plus purposeful Failure to Understand the Homeless Funding problems and solutions.
What exactly happens with the annual $400 million spent on the Homeless in San Diego? By math an average of $46,000 is invested in each of the 8,700 Homeless San Diegans. What do we get for the Investment? What do the Homeless get? What do staff at the City of San Diego, Civic San Diego, and San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) charge for their excessive Administrative costs? Fishy mysteries.
Prayers to end the Violence at the Dakota Pipeline Protest were answered on Saturday with Buffalo Charging and Stamping near the Standoff with Militarized Police. Prayers answered. Awesome.
John Lawrence says
We need to get some good people on the San Diego Housing Commission. Right now there are probably no advocates for the homeless. Then perhaps we can break out some of that money tied up in the LMIHAF and other funds. Most of the money earmarked for the homeless now goes to executives and others to administer and study the situation.
Linda Hutchison says
Thank you for attending the meeting and writing about this issue. Recently, I wrote about an incident in my PB neighborhood where the worst was assumed about a man and even reported on inaccurately on local TV.
John Kitchin says
Thanks, Jeeni. For awhile there, I was starting to buy all that City propaganda, so this was a really slick event. I get into another scathing editorial on all this, plus I quote and link your article here, which will all go into my San Diego Homeless News. News 8 let me speak, but only left a tiny bit in. I am proud to have jeered the Nazi guy by giving him the Nazi salute, and I think most folks understood that I was un-praising him. You can get thrown out of an event unless careful about how you criticize people. I am attempting to get the job of writing the Regional Plan to end homelessness.
Barbara Zaragoza says
I’m just curious. Is Lori Zapf saying there are no people living in homes (as our next door neighbors, including in La Jolla and Point Loma) who are crazed drug addicts, out of prison or otherwise scary? According to her, this is only an attribute of people ‘living on the streets’?
John Kitchin says
My article, temporarily on the homeless-owned website at http://www.NZ9F.com/SDHNpreview quotes Zapf as follows: “First to speak was Lori Zapf, whose district includes some of the Beaches area. She stated that this is a multi-layered problem and it involves a new type of homeless that is not the usual sort of those down-on-their luck. This new sort of homeless exhibits lawless and aggressive behavior. She mentioned early prisoner release AB109 and Prop 47 as being a cause, both of which reduced prison populations. She said that now heroin and methamphetamine possession are just tickets under $950, and the drug addicts will panhandle or steal to buy more drugs. She complained that there is no infrastructure in place to handle those released from prison and that promised money for that has not shown up. There is no more Drug Court, and no more breaking the cycle of behavior, because only serious penalties solve the problem. Since Prop 47 was a Constitutional Amendment, fixing it requires a new signature drive or legislation as a Constitutional Amendment.”
Forrest Curo says
Thank you! I was writing up meetings like this in the early 1990’s for Larry Milligan’s advocacy organization, in the late 1990’s for Street Light — and they don’t really change. The underlying system of subsidized gentrification, developer campaign contributions, and neighborhood economic cleansing seems remarkably resistant to any light one can shed on the systemic manufacture of homelessness. Then, too, it was all being blamed on mental illness, drug addiction, and the joy of the transient lifestyle… while City redevelopment funds went lavishly into destroying low rent housing. A few months ago, when I was volunteering at a local church computer lab, I’d often see a woman who’s been homeless ever since her cottage was bulldozed to make room for an unneeded shopping center almost 20 years ago. The only thing scary about her is that she still can’t afford housing.