The Volunteers of America Southwest building in San Diego / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The fallout continues at Volunteers of America Southwest, a powerful local charity.

Earlier this month, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry revealed major fraud and financial mismanagement accusations against the nonprofit, detailed in a county audit, multiple lawsuits and by a former employee who was fired after sharing concerns with the nonprofit’s leader.

Now, Huntsberry reports, that leader – CEO Gerald McFadden – as well as the charity’s entire board of directors, are out.

Volunteers of America’s national office has dissolved the local board and taken it over, but eventually wants to replace it with a new slate of local leaders. McFadden was allowed to retire, and an executive from the national office is taking the reins as acting CEO.

Earlier this week, Huntsberry reported that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is also withholding nearly $2 million in funding from Volunteers of America Southwest, following VOSD’s revelations.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect list of the board members who have been dismissed.)

No Relief in Sight for Housing Affordability Crisis

On the same day the Union-Tribune reported that the median sales price of a San Diego home reached a mind-numbing record $700,000 in April, the California Housing Partnership issued a new report totaling the countywide need for affordable housing.

Like the median sales price, the scale of the county’s need is astounding: 132,298 households who earn low incomes do not have access to an affordable rental home, defined as one in which they would spend less than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.

Of those who qualify as having extremely low incomes, 81 percent spend more than half of their income on housing.

Rich Toscano, a VOSD contributor and real estate expert who began warning of the recession-inducing housing bubble in 2004, told the Union-Tribune that despite the ever-increasing sales prices, today’s housing market doesn’t yet strike him as a bubble, because low interest rates are holding down monthly payments. He said price increases could abate if interest rates continue to rise, and the supply of available homes continues to increase as the pandemic fades.

A Short-Term Fix to Bridge the Digital Divide

Politicians, community groups and other institutions like the San Diego County Office of Education are working to spread awareness about a new federal program aimed at making internet access more affordable. It could help some North County families get connected in the short term, Kayla Jimenez reports in this week’s North County Report.

“The digital divide in northern San Diego County existed long before the pandemic, but the public health crisis brought to light a long-running problem: Some people living in the backcountry have no or poor connections; other low-income families and individuals simply can’t afford broadband internet,” Jimenez writes.

The new program will provide people who qualify with a discount of up to $50 a month toward broadband service and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Eligible people and families will also get a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet under certain conditions.

But it’s not a silver bullet, Jimenez notes: “experts told me that large-scale broadband investments are still needed to overcome the structural issues responsible for the digital divide.”

In Other News

  • Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Jen Campbell announced in a press release Wednesday that the Ocean Beach Pier will partially reopen on Friday.
  • As migrants waiting in Tijuana encampments to make asylum claims in the United States begin slowly to have their opportunity to do so, hope is blossoming among the migrant camp at El Chaparral plaza, KPBS reports
  • San Diego Unified students will have access to in-person instruction and afterschool programs this summer, after the school district, the San Diego Foundation and more than 60 nonprofits cobbled together funding for the program. (City News Service)
  • San Diego’s Big Bay Boom fireworks show is back on for the Fourth of July as an in-person event, the Union-Tribune reports, yet officials continue not to embrace the format from 2012’s event as a new tradition, in spite of it being objectively speaking the best fireworks show that anyone has ever seen.
  • San Diego Unified has renamed the Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary to Clairemont Canyons Academy, to dissociate itself with the anti-Semitic views of American aviator Charles Lindbergh, the Union-Tribune reports.

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby.

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