America’s Finest City isn’t really all that fine, sometimes. Especially if you happen to be a homeless human. Or a whistleblower. Or a woman. Or a protester. The same old, same old, keeps on happening, and like cartoon character Charlie Brown going after that football Lucy’s holding for him, we keep falling for it.
An $80 million commitment in funding for homeless services announced last week is just the latest in a series of moves designed to make people think something is being done by local officials.
The promises keep piling up and so do all the tents on city sidewalks and in parks. Money is being poured into a bucket with several holes in it. There is simply no way these dollars will create enough housing to catch up with demand.
This latest $80 million figure was arrived at by combining federal, city and San Diego Housing Commission funding resources, and, according to a City press release,” will go toward more landlord incentives through the expansion of the “Housing Our Heroes” program to all homeless individuals, new permanent supportive housing units, “Rapid Rehousing” assistance, a rental assistance program, homeless prevention and diversion services, and coordinated street outreach.”
At the root of all this is the reality of affordable housing being removed and replaced with market rate units. Giving displaced people vouchers when there are no places for them to move for years isn’t going to stem the tide of more people becoming homeless.
Activist Martha Sullivan knows bullshit when she sees it, and it didn’t take long for her to suss out the realities of this latest Grand Plan.
Via Facebook:(Emphases mine, lightly edited for clarity)
This announcement includes 733 housing vouchers ($10 million) contributed by the SD Housing Commission to the County’s Project One For All to house severely mentally ill homeless people. In the past year, this program has housed 384 people — while the number of tents/hand built structures in the City DOUBLED and the number of Unsheltered people surpassed 5,600.
- The vacancy rate in rental housing continues to drop, making such tenants even less likely to win the rental lottery — so the City is going to throw another $6.6 Million at Landlords to persuade them to rent to people with poor credit and rental history — an approach which has had marginal success over the past 18 months, since the Mayor launched Housing Our Heroes to get 1,000 veterans off the streets in 2016, and STILL hasn’t achieved that goal.
- $2.9 Million will go to keeping 1,450 households in their homes, to prevent more people from becoming homeless. A laudable goal — but at $2000 per household, WHAT is this going to really accomplish, as rents continue to rise?
- The SD Housing Commission will “Invest ($50 Million) Federal Moving to Work (MTW) and City of San Diego Affordable Housing Funds to create 500 permanent supportive housing units, which will also be eligible for Federal rental housing vouchers to provide rental assistance for homeless San Diegans.” NOTE: these funds don’t BUILD 500 units, they provide funds toward building them, dependent on other funds raised by private developers, which will have no guaranteed rental assistance — but only be “eligible” for Federal rent vouchers. See Item 1 RE the effectiveness of housing vouchers.
- As a KPBS reporter points out, the SD Housing Commission head says there is no data to keep track of how many affordable housing units the city is losing, as older units are redeveloped, often into luxury condos; and the California Housing Partnership estimates that San Diego County is at risk of losing 1,800 affordable homes in the next five years.
- Last November, the U-T reported that since 2010, 10k low-income housing units have been replaced with luxury/market-rate development, wiping out all the gains since 1979.
- $300,000 to “expand support and coordination of existing street outreach efforts.” So — more money for bureaucrats. NOT more street outreach.
- The City MUST STOP puttering around the edges of this Humanitarian Crisis and follow the examples of Seattle and San Jose to permit safe encampments for Unsheltered people including sleeping cabins with a lockable door and solar-powered light and device-charging, and group latrines, showers, cooking facilities, and ready access to services and case management. Seattle has done this for 2 years at a cost of under $10 per person per day.
- We could quickly build safe and secure “sleeping cabins” for 5,600 Unsheltered San Diegans at a cost of $3 per person per day over 2 years, and just $11 Million total. And place them in just part of the huge parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium and or at Chargers Park nearby. THIS provides a safe place for Unsheltered San Diegans to stay and stabilize, for ready contact as permanent housing is made available. We can DO this, San Diego! We just need the political will to do so. See more here.
Meanwhile, the “The Rancho Penasquitos Planning Board has given the go-ahead to a housing development eliminating 332 low-income housing units with 600 apartments, condos, and single-family homes, selling for the mid-$400,000s through the mid-$600,000s, with apartment rentals starting at $1,500 a month to upper $2,000’s. There will be 27 low-income units in the new complex.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, developers said the price will still be affordable for many.
“The owners, both APP (Atlantic Pacific Properties) and Lennar have complied with every legal requirement imposed upon them as owners and developers.
That’s what they intend to do for the next 40 years as they have for the past 40 years, is to be good neighbors,” said Kenneth Lounsbery, attorney for Lennar Homes.
The San Diego City Council will vote on the proposed project this fall.
Speaking of downtown development projects, it would appear that Civic San Diego is headed towards a day of reckoning, according to a story in the Union-Tribune.
Superior Court Judge Richard Strauss has made a ruling allowing former employees of Civic San Diego to be deposed in a lawsuit seeking to require the city to allow most land-use decisions by CivicSD to be appealed to the City Council.
The future shape of San Diego’s skyline and other downtown development is at stake in a lawsuit that could be bolstered next month by information from four whistleblowers.
The lawsuit seeks to end what it calls years of shady, backroom deals that it blames on downtown San Diego being the only place in California where a private corporation controls land-use decisions.
The suit contends the city is illegally choosing “streamlined” project approvals over transparency and public input by granting that corporation — Civic San Diego — authority that should belong to leaders accountable to taxpayers – the City Council.
Given that Civic San Diego likes to tout its commitment to affordable housing, this lawsuit could have a real impact on future projects, since I would argue their role has been more about displacement than replacement.
Here’s another lawsuit working its way through the courts. On March 9, 2018 Sandra Naranjo vs Michael “Mickey” Kasparian and UFCW Local 135 will go to trial in civil court.
For months now the embattled union leader’s lawyers have sought to have the case dismissed. And the fact that there wasn’t a trial date set has been one his main talking points in trying to denigrate the accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination forming the basis of this and other lawsuits.
While Kasparian has been removed from the leadership position on the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council by the national AFL-CIO, he remains a power broker within the local Democratic Party.
Supporters of the women complainants in these cases continue to stage protests. A picket line will go up outside the Democratic Party’s (July 11th) Executive Board meeting.
And, despite Party Chair Jessica Hayes moving the July Central Committee meeting to a new and more difficult location, organizers plan to be outside the Machinist Hall in Kearney Mesa on July 18.
From the We Stand With Sandy, Isabel and Anabel Facebook event page:
Prominent party members have called for action yet local Democratic Party leadership, under the direction of Jessica Hayes, have consistently sided with Kasparian and denigrated his accusers and their supporters. Hayes has even changed meeting locations thinking it will stop supporters from protesting!
Hayes has denied moving the meeting to block the demonstrations, but her letter to IBEW 569 announcing the move leaves no doubt about where she stands.
Not a proud moment. While we’re on the subject of dissent, Nicole Murray Ramirez’s column in the LGBT Weekly promising arrests should any “LGBT radicals along with Black Lives Matter activists” dare protest the San Diego Pride Parade.
Here’s the salient paragraph:
While I have discussions about this possible situation with police officials, including Police Chief Zimmerman and Pride officials, I cannot release all the information but can report that I have been advised that anyone attempting to shut down our Pride parade will likely be immediately arrested. Rumors are this “shut down” is supposed to be in front of the police, sheriff and law enforcement Pride contingent. Word is that the same radical people who showed up at The LGBT Center event honoring police officer Garcia are behind this possible action. My message to them is don’t even try because this time you will be arrested and taken to jail. A word to the wise.
Funny, I would think that a movement born out of dissent and civil unrest would find a better way of dealing with potential disruptions.
It turns out I’m not the only one who feels that way, as this snip from a letter written by Democrats for Equality President Will Rodriguez-Kennedy indicates:
Nicole’s words to the protesters are as much chilling as they are ironic. The idea that protesters should be arrested for shutting down a corporate sponsored private event is not something we as a movement should embrace. To the contrary, we should listen and demonstrate with a message we know well: Love trumps hate.
These protesters will be members of our community bringing to light a very important issue that Black lives matter, that Brown lives matter and that Trans lives matter, and while we may disagree whether or not this tactic is fruitful we must embrace that this tactic is the very type of activism that brought us the Civil Rights Act; that brought us the Voting Rights Act and that brought us marriage equality.
If and when these protests occur I ask all of our community to listen and ask yourself why they are occurring. What are we, as a community, failing to hear? What can we do so that our family members who now protest Pride can feel that they are being heard and that their very serious issues are being taken to heart.
There will always be somebody protesting–it’s as American as apple pie. Threatening violence–whether it’s the State-sanctioned criminal justice system or vigilante action of some flavor– has a long history of being a losing strategy to cope with dissent.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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