Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera speaks to volunteers distributing information about San Diego's COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera is dealing with a lot of big issues. But the biggest problem he, and every leader in the region, is dealing with is homelessness.

Elo-Rivera wanted to talk to Voice of San Diego about how he sees the crisis these days — as the city is doing more than it ever has to shelter and support residents while the problem gets worse by all measure.

Host Scott Lewis got Elo-Rivera in the studio to lay out the scope of the problem, discuss who the unhoused are, how senior citizens are disproportionately affected and more. One key approach Elo-Rivera outlined is to stop the “flow” of homelessness — stem the tide as more San Diegans slip into homelessness for the first time.

Let’s get into it.

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Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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  1. The problem is that San Diego is applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems and its not working. They are putting in 24 beds here 40 bed there and saying we are working on it. You are not even keeping up with the increase.

    We need homeless housing in 500 unit blocks, not the dribs and drabs the city is doing. We had the opportunity to make a major difference with two large city owned properties: The Sports Arena and Tailgate park. Both went to developers. The city will point out that those developments will include low income housing. They fail to mention that there are ZERO homeless units in either development, even though one is across the street from Father Joe’s.

    Let me put this in terms a couple of politicians can understand: If you don’t clear the streets of the homeless you will both be unemployed at the end of your terms. No future US Representative or Senator for Gloria, or Mayor for Elo-Rivera. You have two years to turn things around, based on the last two years, you both are in trouble.

  2. Look forward to seeing what Dan Shea and Bill Walton come up with. Both are savvy self made millionaires who have never lost sight of how great our city and community is and are unabashed supporters of our motto, America’s Finest City. Sadly our elected leaders are not in the same league. Their motto is think small, talk big. This is a crisis that reached the emergency declaration level long ago. It’s obvious to anyone that the sidewalks of downtown SD and elsewhere are living proof that the human misery and squalor is getting worse by the day while Mayor Gloria continues to make excuses, rationalize and literally not making a bit of difference.

  3. Having listened to the council member Elo-Rivera, and have had experience With a mentally ill family member living on the street, I tend to agree with Ella Rivera position on how to in part solve the problem. Number one, it’s difficult to get any of the mentally ill off of the street because they realize going into a congregate setting but they have no privacy. That can be very scary for them. Many of them are very paranoid. They will resist. As they say there’s more than one way to skin a cat and perhaps a combination of different programs to meet the needs of the people on the street might be more beneficial than just to settle on one solution.
    At first when I realize that not much was being done for the trash on the street over in the Rolando, I too was not too happy with Elo-Rivera.
    I was not seeing much done and complained to the city and his office.

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