My Tuesday column included a video excerpt with remarks made by District 2 City Council candidate Dr. Jennifer Campbell about homeless humans I found to be offensive and just plain wrong. I received this statement on Wednesday afternoon in response to an offer to let her tell her side of the story.–Doug Porter
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your article in the San Diego Free Press.
My comments referenced were regrettable and off-the-cuff and I apologize. They do not reflect my values or my beliefs of what we must do to responsibly and effectively address homelessness. This is a multi-faceted, difficult issue and I must stay focused on the right paths forward. Our latest movement toward Housing First and Wrap Around Services through the work of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless must be held sacrosanct.
As a new candidate, I have learned that I need to choose my words more carefully. I vow to use this opportunity as a candidate to contribute to a better civic dialogue, focused on the right approaches.
“You see all those panhandlers on the corners? They’re probably not even homeless! They’re just pretending they are. They’re begging. Do they have a license? I doubt it. In the city they have to have a license. Is anyone checking that? No. We don’t have enough police!” –The comment referenced in this letter
Like many District 2 constituents, I am frustrated at the rising numbers of homeless, associated impacts on our community, and the inability for our current Councilmember to embrace national best practices which have demonstrated success in Houston, Orlando, or Salt Lake City.
The failure to appreciate and promote Housing First strategies, finding excuses, and ignoring opportunities for action these past four years has led to the current Homeless crisis and last year’s Hepatitis A outbreak. We know what we get under Lorie Zapf, and I will bring a different level of attention and set of approaches.
The solutions to homelessness are not rooted in criminalization and enforcement, but in funding services and building affordable homes. Fortunately for San Diego, we have pioneered a Homeless Outreach Team model that helps police who interact with the homeless to take them to services, not to jails. These efforts strain police resources which have been woefully understaffed.
We need a Councilmember who will apply additional and steady pressure on the County Supervisors to step up and support the social services critical for street outreach and mental health assistance for those in need, as their large reserves are intended to support.
As a doctor, I put caring for the ill first and no one who needs help should be refused. As a member of the City Council, I will support City resources toward addressing homelessness as a moral, economic and quality of life imperative. I welcome you to contact me if you have any further question.
Thank you again for the chance to respond.
Jennifer Campbell, MD