Haitian immigrants at Comar

Voice of San Diego is known for ground-breaking investigations that hold local leaders and agencies accountable. Our reporters spent countless hours analyzing complex issues to inform our readers how specific policies and decisions affect them. 

It isn’t an easy task and sometimes it takes more than just written work. That’s where photos come in.  

In 2021, VOSD’s photojournalists were on the ground documenting events and moments that showed how these complex issues affect San Diego residents.  

Here is some of our best work.  


On the same day hundreds stormed on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., local Trump supporters protested the 2020 presidential election results at the San Diego County Administration Center in downtown. Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


As San Diego County began to receive shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, health care workers and vulnerable residents were placed at the front of the line to receive their shots. Homeless residents staying at the temporary shelter in the Convention Center, like Rude Rowe pictured above, received their first vaccines on Feb. 3 Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


Back in March, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt checked in on Mayor Todd Gloria plan to deal with homeless tent encampments that had increased in downtown San Diego. 

Then, a horrible crash happened on March 15 when a driver plowed into a homeless encampment set up underneath a bridge next to San Diego City College, killing three and injuring six others. The tragedy put the issue into perspective. Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


San Diego Unified School District reopened classrooms to students whose families opted to return to in-person instruction oApril 12. Picture above are third grade students at Encanto Elementary watching a video during class.  Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


Tara Buesig, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego County, uses a fentanyl test strip. / Photo by Megan Wood

Fatal drug overdoses, particularly those involving fentanyl, have soared as the opioid has increasingly flowed onto San Diego streets and been laced with other drugs, including methamphetamine. San Diego’s homeless community has been particularly vulnerable.  

On May 10, VOSD’s Megan Wood followed Tara Buesig, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition Of San Diego County, as she handed out fentanyl drug testing strips in Point Loma. Photo by Megan Wood 


After former VOSD Reporter Kayla Jiminez uncovered sexual harassment allegations against CSU San Marcos Professor Chetan Kumar, students protested the university’s decision to not fire him on June 12.  Photo by Adriana Heldiz


Following a tortilla-throwing incident during a Coronado High School Men’s Basketball game in June, former Coronado students spoke out about ways they were mistreated by the district. 

Imani Ware and Irlanda Goulding, pictured above, were both on the soccer team while attending Coronado High School and faced or witnessed racial discrimination. Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


San Diego Police Officer Nick Medina issues a warning to a man he said threatened him with an exercising weight while conducting a homeless encampment sweep along 17 Street on Aug. 18, 2021. Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


Lidia Davalos sweeps outside near her home in Tijuana’s Colonia Nueva Esperanza Sept. 15, 2021. 

 VOSD contributor Carlos A. Moreno went to the neighborhood, a former farming area, to get a better glimpse of the new Amazon warehouse that’s stirring controversy. The images he produced as part of a photo essay are stark. They show a shiny new building — a monument, if you will, to the new global economic order — overshadowing the shacks where residents live nearby. Photo by Carlos A. Moreno 


Mexican authorities assist Haitian immigrants with the help of a translator at the COMAR offices, Mexico’s refugee agency, to register for refugee status on Oct. 13, 2021.   

In October, officials in Tijuana were seeing a rise in applications from Haitians. Border Report Writer Sandra Dibble spoke to some of those Haitians and how they’re evaluating whether they will stay in Tijuana or try to cross the U.S. border. Photo by Joebeth Terriquez 


Matt Costa, a coastal oceanographer measures and notes the different levels of sediment that he dug up from the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Beach. Researchers will use the samples to determine how much carbon is in the marsh.  Photo by Adriana Heldiz 


Gemma Rama-Banaag, a chief nursing officer at Paradise Valley Hospital, holds a photo of her late husband Chester Banaag when he was in dental school. He died of COVID-19 complications on Jan. 1, 2021. 
As part of our Year One: COVID-19’s Death Toll reporting series, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan looked at how the pandemic has affected the Filipino community. She found Filipinos were the third largest nationality for pandemic deaths in San Diego in 2020. Photo by Adriana Heldiz 

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