By Barrio Logan Planning Group
October 24, 2017
Honorable Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer
Councilmember Barbara Bry
Council President Myrtle Cole
Council President Pro-Tem Mark Kersey
Councilmember Lorie Zapf
Councilmember Chris Ward
Councilmember Chris Cate
Councilmember Scott Sherman
Councilmember David Alvarez
Councilmember Georgette Gomez
Richard C. Gentry, President and CEO San Diego Housing Commission
Bob McElroy, CEO Alpha Project
Deacon Jim F. Vargas, OFS, President & CEO, Father Joe’s Village
Re: Temporary (Bridge) Homeless Shelters
Honorable Mayor Faulconer:
Barrio Logan and East Village are two of San Diego’s most historic communities. Many Barrio Logan residents who reside in single family homes are third, fourth and fifth generation, living in family homes. Many work in the community and are proud of their heritage, choosing to continue to raise their young families in their childhood neighborhoods. Barrio Logan is well known for its artistic achievements and the work of its residents. We preserve a rich past in civil activism while concurrently maintaining the community as a livable, supportive place to grow up and raise a family. East Village is San Diego’s largest downtown neighborhood, serving as an arts and industrial neighborhood in transition, and is anticipated to evolve over the next decade to a mixed-use community of more than 800-plus businesses and nearly 30,000 residents.
Over the years, our community leaders and activists have diligently worked to maintain the community as healthy, safe and supportive. Barrio Logan and East Village have acted deliberately to avoid attracting those who would endanger the health and safety of our businesses and residents. These activities have measurably contributed to the supportive qualities that now characterize both communities. Thus, it is imperative that the City of San Diego supports our need to limit negative impacts to both of these communities challenged with the activation of the proposed Bridge Shelters at 16th and Newton and 14th and Commercial.
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE
When the temporary homeless shelter was last removed from 16th and Newton in 2015, the City Council agreed that Barrio Logan should not have to endure its effects again and a commitment was made to find a permanent solution to the homeless population’s need for shelter and services. There was also a commitment made at the time to not return the temporary shelter to 16th Street and Newton Avenue. Due to inaction, we still do not have a permanent solution to housing the growing homeless population, but we do have the spread of Hepatitis A through the urban community. This has made many of our streets, places of business, and even recreational and historic treasures such as Chicano Park, unhealthy and dangerous.
Learning of the intent of the City of San Diego to return the homeless shelter to 16th Street and Newton Avenue and Commercial and 14th Streets, has raised grave concerns among those of us who live and work in Barrio Logan and East Village. While we understand the need to act to serve the needs of the growing homeless population in San Diego, community residents have a vivid memory of the impacts the last “temporary shelter” brought to Barrio Logan.
The impacts to this identified community are not those of the homeless individuals who are in the shelters, but rather those who don’t want to be, or are not accepted in the shelters. Historically, the erection of temporary shelters has greatly increased homeless “camping” on private and public property leaving human waste and trash often for those of us working and living in the community to clean up daily. There is no reason to expect anything different from this newly proposed shelter. Both the Barrio Logan Community and East Village Community demand that the City and Alpha Project and Father Joe’s Village mitigate these negative effects caused by the newly proposed bridge shelter.
A HEALTHY COMMUNITY
The City needs to pursue a direction that includes identifying “best practices”. Housing or sheltering is only one component of the total homeless objective.
Because of the Hepatitis A outbreak spreading through the homeless population, the issue is magnified and now includes serious health concerns. Expanding the area occupied by homeless people is also expanding the area threatened by Hepatitis A. For example, placing a shelter adjacent to Monarch School and the Barrio Logan College Institute seems to defy all logic considering this health crisis.
- Barrio Logan and East Village as the host communities, expect something better than what has been done in the past. The tents must be a hygienic facility. They must have services to provide adequate healthcare: medical screening, mental health screening, TB testing and adult vaccinations including Hep A. They must provide toileting, shower capabilities and multiple hand-washing stations. These facilities should be accessible both at night and during the day to allow those who stay overnight a place to go during the day time to mitigate their migration into the community.
- Supportive case management and transportation services must be available at the tents to help transition the homeless into housing and to allow transport for the homeless to their appointments and to leave the community after their stay.
- The City must fund a dynamic evaluation component that includes baseline data, with metrics that measure outcomes such as: completed referrals to mental health, medication management, healthcare services and health improvement, job training, and movement into more permanent housing. Without a dynamic system of goals and measurements facilitated by case management, improvements will not occur and best practices cannot be realized. In short, we will just have homeless people under a tent, and not on the streets.
A SAFE COMMUNITY
We do hope that the presence of the Alpha Project and Father Joe’s Village team members will assist in a safe path of travel along National Avenue and Commercial Street for all residents and students who commute on those streets. On-going, regular communication with the Alpha Project and Father Joe’s Village team once they are on-site is imperative to achieve and maintain a safe walking environment for all residents and students. The Barrio Logan community wants to specifically highlight the schools neighboring the Barrio Logan site: Monarch School, Barrio Logan College Institute, and Perkins Elementary School.
- Professional and effective security including SDPD and HOT team need to be placed at the Monarch School, Barrio Logan College Institute, and Perkins Elementary School.
- Security should be where children are present and should be attached to both shelters.
- A community-wide security patrol and increased SDPD patrol dispatched throughout the community are required all through the day, beginning at 5:30 AM, to move homeless camping and sleeping on public and private property to the shelter or elsewhere.
A CLEAN COMMUNITY
We request that the homeless housed in the shelter be kept on site during the day. This would prevent the random “hanging out” in the community that brings with it the degradation of the neighborhoods nearby and potential health and safety issues. An enclosed outdoor area could easily serve that purpose.
- A community-wide clean-up crew of sufficient size and resources must be dispatched throughout the community daily beginning at 5:30 AM to clean up after homeless individuals who have been camping or sleeping on public or private property and sanitize the area, including Chicano Park, to protect against the spread of Hepatitis A, or any other disease. This clean-up needs to also keep the community free of syringes and other paraphernalia, human waste, and other trash.
A WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE COMMUNITY AND THE CITY ADMINISTRATION
If the properties identified for the temporary shelters were proposed to be developed by a private entity, there would rightfully be studies and mitigation measures taken by that entity of the impacts to the surrounding community and region. We trust the same rules apply to Barrio Logan and East Village as they would to any other community in the City of San Diego in order to identify the impacts to the surrounding community that result from the temporary shelter.
It is understood that the bridge shelters are meant to be temporary while the City implements a permanent solution to housing the homeless in San Diego. Our natural concern is that having temporary shelters relieves the “pressure” on the City to find the permanent solution that is needed. We remain hopeful that this is not the case and a more permanent solution is on the horizon.
Since Barrio Logan has been subjected to the impacts of the temporary homeless shelter for many years and East Village has been subject to the impact of the programs operating in its community, it seems only reasonable to ask you to provide us with:
- A commitment from the City to a specific date that the bridge shelters will be removed.
- Going forward from the date of this letter, we request a monthly report be provided to the community via the Barrio Logan Planning Group and the East Village Association, each of which meet monthly. This will help solve issues and ensure that the City and community are working together. This honest communication and transparency is necessary to achieve our shared values.
- An evaluation committee which includes community members, City staff, Alpha Project staff and Father Joe’s Village staff must be created to review ongoing issues and progress on an ongoing basis.
Please provide or community with a timely and detailed response to this letter. We are happy to meet at any time to discuss the issues outlined above, along with the proper mitigation measures.
|Mark W. Steele, Chair
Barrio Logan Planning Group
|James Haug, President
East Village Association
|Timothy Fraser, President
Barrio Logan Association
|David Malmuth, President
East Village Improvement Association
|Fernando J. Hernandez, CEO
Perkins Elementary School
|Diane Takvorian, Executive Director
Environmental Health Coalition
|Rachael Ortiz, Executive Director
|Fran Butler-Cohen, CEO
Family Health Centers of San Diego
|Tina Camarillo, Vice Chairperson
Chicano Park Steering Committee
|Jose A. Cruz, CEO
Barrio Logan College Institute