Will Batley, 72, talks about his intriguing and layered life, including what led up to him currently living out of his vehicle near a small park in La Mesa. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The city of La Mesa is using a new outreach approach to reach its homeless residents. 

The East County city is sending outreach workers, not police officers, to respond to non-emergency, low-level calls related to homeless residents as part of a broader push to develop new solutions to rising homelessness in the region. 

As Jakob McWhinney reported earlier this month, East County has long struggled with high rates of homelessness but has historically lacked the means, or political support, to address it. 

In a new story, McWhinney takes a look at La Mesa’s Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement program, or HOME, which focuses on finding individualized solutions to the underlying reasons people have ended up on the streets.

The program has found broad support among La Mesa residents and city officials, and its workers say its strategy of sustained and consistent engagement is seeing success. 

But as with all things, there are challenges. 

It’s not the type of work that can be done quickly. Workers explain that it takes time to build trust and relationships.

There are also concerns from advocates about its connection to the Police Department. HOME’s office is located in a police station.

Click here to read more about the program.

Ukrainians Seeking Refuge at the U.S.-Mexico Border Follow in the Footsteps of Countless Others 

Ukrainian refugees arrive to the Tijuana Benito Juarez Sports Complex shelter where more than 2,000 people are waiting for asylum to enter the United States. / Photo by Carlos A. Moreno for Voice of San Diego

The arrival of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war in their country in recent weeks along the U.S.-Mexico border did not come as a surprise to Voice of San Diego contributor Sandra Dibble. 

She writes in her latest Border Report that in her 28-year career covering the U.S.-Mexico border she’s met hundreds of migrants from all over the world. She’s heard stories of people walking through jungles, crossing rivers, boarding crowded buses and flying across the globe. They undertake arduous journeys in search of safety, economic opportunity and so much more. 

And while Ukrainians are the latest group at the border attracting headlines, she writes that the largest groups that continue to arrive at our border are from Mexico and Central America. But there is a trend worth watching, she writes, as migrants from other countries have been arriving in record numbers. 

To better understand that phenomenon, she tapped a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. 

Read the latest Border Report here.

The San Diego County Fair Will Go On 

After lengthy negotiations over the weekend, the 22nd District Agricultural Association reached a settlement that will allow the San Diego County Fair to continue as scheduled.

We reported this week that the 22nd District, which oversees the fair and the Del Mar Fairgrounds, has been wrapped up in a lawsuit brought on by Talley Amusements, a carnival operator that accused the Fairgrounds CEO of rigging the contract to favor its competitor, Ray Cammack Shows.

A judge issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month, which could have canceled the rides and games at the fair if a deal wasn’t reached. Under the terms of the new settlement, the district will contract multiple companies, including Ray Cammack Shows and Talley Amusements, for different rides and games.

The lawsuit, however, will not be dismissed as a condition of the deal, the Union-Tribune reported. Under the settlement, the lawsuit will be paused temporarily until the fair is over.

Though the judge concluded in his ruling that the 22nd District likely rigged the contract, Fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore still remains in her position and has still not been held accountable by the 22nd District or by the state, which oversees the District.

In Other News

  • Five affordable housing projects that serve low-income San Diegans and previously homeless seniors and veterans just received $20 million in federal and state funding from the County Health and Human Services Agency. Aviara East in Carlsbad, Union Tower in National City, Santa Fe Senior Village in Vista, COMM 22 in Logan Heights and Mariposa II in San Marcos will offer a total of 375 units. (County News Center)
  • San Diego County leaders opened a new Crisis Stabilization Unit in Oceanside on Monday. Services include 24/7 walk-in mental health and substance use services for those in a behavioral health crisis, with stays of less than 24 hours. Law enforcement can also drop off individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis to one of these facilities as a safe alternative to jail or a hospital. This is the region’s sixth Crisis Stabilization Unit funded by the county. (CBS 8)
  • Fewer than 100 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 across the county, according to Christopher Longhurst, the chief medical and digital officer at UC San Diego Health. Hospitalizations in the county fell below 200 around this time last year, then began climbing in July during the Delta wave. Hospitalizations have now been below 200 for about a month.

This Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Megan Wood.

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