By Remigia Bermúdez
The June 30 Morning Report: San Diego’s Risky Homeless Diversion Project by Voice of San Diego‘s Seth Hall calls the latest movida by San Diego’s elected officials right on the money — a “diversion.” It is truly a diversion of San Diego City Hall to keep passing the buck and pushing the homeless away from downtown.
The Voice’s article states:
“The city of San Diego wants to divert more homeless people away from the criminal justice system and into supportive programs that aid in recovery. To do that, city leaders came up with a program that helps people hooked on drugs and accused of a crime to enter into treatment and shelter,” identifying a “huge” grant recently received for it.
The city proposal to better serve the homeless with rehab services identified in said recent grant sounds benevolent — for a second. What smells fishy is relocating them to Imperial Beach.
This is a case of good intentions gone sour.
Although a location change and distance away from friends and close ones is the practice of rehab programs, mere rehab services without transitional programs such as continued education, employment preparation and placement, transitional housing and continued social/health services is a self-defeating practice.
There is no need to go to Imperial Beach to house the program. To spend money to purchase a hotel or motel in Imperial Beach is ironic when city funds and/or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds could be invested to rehab and recondition existing city-owned structures. CDBG funds is specifically intended for brick and mortar, which fits the bill of vacant city buildings that could serve as much needed shelter for our homeless folks.
The City of San Diego has a lot of surplus property available downtown and elsewhere. For instance, take the empty former library building on E Street across from post office. And let us not forget Qualcomm Stadium. Both could be reconditioned to provide the services of the new proposal. The former library building, especially, could be an excellent location for transitional housing, capable of offering the benefits associated with transition services for decent, independent living opportunities down the line.
Remigia (Remy) Bermúdez is an Education Specialist who lives in Sherman Heights. A San Diego Free Press contributing writer and community activist/organizer, she has more than 20 years of professional experience with city, county, federal, state and regional governments, nine of which are in California Redevelopment in San Diego. With a Social Science B.A., a Master’s in City Planning and insider knowledge of city government and administration, Bermúdez uses everything she has learned to benefit communities as an ardent advocate for social justice. Coining the term “May Justice Prevail,” Bermúdez owns and operates RemyLinks whose motto is “Responsible Government for Better Communities.”