Tommy Rodger, 63, has been fighting devastating illnesses for many years, and while he would prefer to be inside, he is just glad to be alive.
Tommy Rodger, 63, has been at the North Magnolia Avenue camp with his girlfriend for about a week. He was one of dozens there on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

This post originally appeared in the April 6 Morning ReportSubscribe here.

The Magnolia encampment featured in Jakob McWhinney’s story on new efforts to address homelessness in East County has been shrinking steadily over the past weeks. In an email, a spokesman for the county, which committed to sending outreach workers to the encampment every weekday for at least two weeks, wrote that between March 16 and 30 it had connected 24 individuals to some form of housing.

The Sheriff’s Homeless Assistance Response Team, as well as nonprofit partners PATH, Home Start and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness have all been assisting with engagement and outreach, and the Department of Public Works has been providing twice weekly cleaning services. Additionally, public health nurses had administered over a dozen COVID-19, Hep-A and flu vaccines, and distributed over a hundred hygiene kits and dozens of Narcan kits.

“Our team has been coordinating with PATH and Home Start to ensure appropriate coordinated entry housing assessments are completed for each person we engage and based on those assessments individuals can get matched to [a] variety of housing options,” the county wrote.

Anthony Correa, who said he’d been living in his car until a collision with a driver going the wrong way down a street totaled it, has been living in a tent at the Magnolia encampment. He said outreach workers had helped him get signed up for an EBT card, and general relief, a program that provides temporary cash assistance to individuals.

“It’s been a huge help,” Correa said. “I’ll take any help to get off the street.”

Gerry Kostiha, who’d been staying there with his dog Lumpy for months, and was featured in the March 22 piece, is one of the individuals who has moved. He excitedly told Voice early last week he’d gotten Lumpy certified as a service animal so they could move into housing. By March 29, he could no longer be found at the encampment.

Gerald (Gerry) Kostiha eats a grapefruit while sitting on a chair outside his tent Tuesday, March 8, 2022 in El Cajon, CA.
Gerry Kostiha with his dog Lumpy outside his tent in El Cajon on March 8, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The county spokesman wrote county workers will continue daily outreach through at least April 8, with regular visits continuing afterwards.

Jakob McWhinney

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter. He can be reached by email at and followed...

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  1. These measures are throwing gasoline on a fire. Give them money, ebt, cell phones, what reason would they have to go anywhere? I see it daily and the police presence alone is better than I ever get and I pay a huge tax burden each year. Move them along and out. See where their home state is and give them a bus ticket back. Time for San Diegans to stop paying the bill for every other states homeless problem. We all know they get a free bus ride here and a promise of nice weather and some extra California cash.

    1. Lol. Clearly it’s working, as the article states the encampment has been shrinking steadily. I’m not sure ‘we all know’ that, at all.

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