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On Tuesday, VOSD’s Adriana Heldiz saw a large-scale operation by the city of San Diego to clean a homeless camp that had been growing for months in the Midway District; it recently grew so large it was spilling into the street, according to the city.
City staff loaded tents, makeshift shelters and tons of belongings into a trash truck to try and sort out the area. Officers offered shelter to the people living there. Several rejected those offers and were given citations.
It put a spotlight on a lot of the issues at play for one of the region’s biggest problems: homelessness.
This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts discussed the event with Heldiz and VOSD reporter Lisa Halverstadt. It was a busy and emotional scene, Heldiz said. And Halverstadt, who’s been reporting on homelessness for years, said the issue has gotten more visible over the course of the pandemic. But there have been some enforcement changes under Mayor Todd Gloria, such as not booking people in jail and ensuring cleanups don’t happen at night or during bad weather.
During this segment (which starts around minute 20 in the podcast), Lewis asked Halverstadt what other solutions homeless advocates are arguing for. She said they want local leaders to get direct input from homeless residents about what they need and what would help most. Sometimes shelters are scary, foreign and bring threats of their own, such as COVID-19 outbreaks or sexual assault. So, getting some basic amenities like bathrooms, trash cans and tools to help them keep areas clean would be a good step — as well as offering a wider variety of housing solutions, like more hotel rooms and spaces with more privacy than group shelters.
Also this week: Gloria got a lot of flack for his parody video that went semi-viral. In it, he and other City Hall staff lip-synced, danced and poked fun at former mayor Kevin Faulconer. We discuss this weird San Diego tradition of dorky political videos and how their time might be running short, should they prove too politically costly.
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