The weather has turned angry. It’s raining and blustery outside as I’m writing this. It’s a bad time to be a human living without a roof over their head.
I’m also angry. I’ve just seen a video of a supposedly leading Democratic candidate for City Council who seems to think she can win by fanning the flames of hate towards our city’s homeless.
Here’s the money quote from District 2 candidate Dr. Jen Campbell, speaking to a group on Thursday, January 4:
“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!”
A video supplied by one of her opponents is embedded at the end of this story. District 2 Democrat Bryan Pease also pointed out the irony of her mentioning licensing, given that he was the attorney whose 2006 lawsuit struck down San Diego’s charitable solicitation license ordinance as being unconstitutional.
I have contacted the Campbell campaign by email, but have yet to hear back. If and when they do respond, I’ll share that information as an update to this story.
UPDATE: Dr. Campbell has issued a statement apologizing for her remarks. I’ve posted her remarks as a standalone story.
I doubt State Senator Toni Atkins, US House of Representative members Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, City Councilman Chris Ward, and the host of big-name local Democrats are aware of this position Campbell apparently holds.
The Union-Tribune’s political writer David Garrick sang her praises as a “strong Democratic challenger” in a recent profile.
A Democratic candidate with wide support from elected leaders is emerging to challenge Republican San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s re-election bid next year, boosting chances that Democrats increase their council majority to a veto-proof 6-3 advantage.
Dr. Jennifer Campbell, second cousin to high-profile Democratic national strategist David Axelrod, recently announced her candidacy and has received several key endorsements from San Diego Democrats.
It sure looks like the fix is in. I’d certainly like to know why.
Father Joe’s is holding their annual press conference to announce the temporary expansion of services to local people who are without a home–the morning after the bad weather has arrived. “Media must exit by 10:30 a.m. to allow for shelter setup,” says the press release.
Still, something is better than nothing. Tonight will be a better night for the lucky few who get to sleep under some kind of roof and the opportunity for a hot meal.
The local charitable organizations charged by the city with meeting the basic needs of homeless humans can’t meet the demand. Nor can they solve the underlying economic issues accelerating the number of people living on the street.
This is a political problem, and most everybody in an elected office knows it. Ten thousand inexpensive single occupancy rooms vanished as a consequence of redevelopment in San Diego. Monies that could be used for basic services (and housing!) for this population are squirreled away for other purposes.
Wages have not increased to match the cost of shelter. The thousands of housed homeless–those lucky enough to be able to double or even triple up in tiny apartments– are just one unfortunate incident away from living on the streets.
The Homeless System Framework shows that in fiscal year 2016, more than 19,000 people entered the region’s system of care. Of those more than 19,000 people, nearly 64 percent were new to the system, meaning they had not asked for assistance in the past.
And once on the streets, a divorce from reality is just months away. A friend of mine who managed to escape this downward spiral told me it only takes six months to go “feral.” Once people slip over this line it’s no longer just a matter of roof and/or a job (some are employed, BTW)–basic resocialization is required to keep them out of the abyss.
The Homeless System Framework also visualizes which services offered to those with a lack of permanent shelter provide the best results. Previous HUD research has shown that many homeless individuals who are placed into subsidized housing, eventually end up back on the streets because they require other services, beyond a home, to help them get their lives back on track.
I have an idea. Let’s take care of those who are actually homeless and deal with the fake bums later.
Before I get too far down this rabbit hole, let me save the “everybody knows” crowd some time and effort (before they share their misperceptions in comments) about homeless humans:
- 77% of those contacted by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for the 2017 Point in Time count said they became homeless while living in San Diego.
- 40% are disabled
- 43% have a chronic health condition
- 39% have serious mental health issues
- 10% are alcohol abusers
- 14% are substance abusers
FYI– A 2015 report in Newsweek says 30% of Americans have experienced an alcohol-use disorder. 32 million Americans, nearly one in seven adults, struggled with a serious alcohol problem in the last year alone.
These are terrible times for humans who are disenfranchised by poverty, race, ethnicity, and gender. Empathy as an element of good character has been replaced by cruelty, both physical and emotional.
This corruption of basic human decency goes beyond across geographic and party lines. Here in San Diego, we have a leading Democratic candidate running for city council in District 2 who seems to think she can win by walking over the bodies of our local homeless humans.
Maybe she should consider volunteering for the 2018 Regional Task Force for the Homeless We All Count census on January 26th. Maybe she’ll actually get to see up close what these “bums” look like and live through.
Here’s the video:
I haven’t spent much time looking at City Council races–I’m finishing up drafting a series of articles about the District 4 County Supervisors contest. Come February I’ll shift my focus to the Council contests in the City of San Diego.
There are multiple ballot measures being proposed with the idea in mind of funding homelessness efforts. Given that they won’t be on the ballot until November, I’ll take my time to study each of them.
Today’s column, however, was a story that couldn’t wait.
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