Ian Wiggill, 42, snacks on fruit in his upper bunk at the Golden Hall men’s shelter area on April 8, 2022. San Diego’s homeless shelters present a variety of opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, and an equal number of restrictions for residents there. The pandemic, rising housing costs, and competition for low-income housing all conspire to put the focus on how to house the growing number of people who fall through the cracks. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego
Ian Wiggill, 42, snacks on fruit in his upper bunk at the Golden Hall men’s shelter operated by Father Joe's Villages on April 8, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

One of the common myths about homelessness in San Diego is that it’s easy for unhoused residents to get into a shelter. It’s not. 

Our Lisa Halverstadt found only 37 percent of shelter referrals by outreach workers and police in the city of San Diego are fulfilled in a typical week after analyzing nearly six months of Housing Commission data documenting referrals routed through the agency.

The city doesn’t have enough shelter beds – or shelter beds that meet specific homeless residents needs such as bottom bunks for seniors – to meet demand.

This is despite the city’s push to add hundreds of new city shelter beds over the past year. City and Housing Commission officials acknowledge the city needs more shelter beds and options and hope to add nearly 250 more beds this fall. 

Read the full story.

Deaths of Homeless San Diegans Spiked Last Year

Deaths of homeless residents surged last year in San Diego County.

The county Medical Examiner’s Office reports that it investigated the deaths of 541 unhoused residents in the county last year, up from 358 in 2020.

Those totals likely only offer a glimpse of the tragedy since county staffers only probe a small fraction of local deaths and the numbers don’t include COVID-19 related deaths.

A large uptick in overdoses of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that is 100 times more powerful than morphine that’s increasingly laced into other drugs, drove the increase in deaths from 2020 to 2021. Accidental fentanyl deaths more than doubled year over year, rising from 85 in 2020 to 202 deaths in 2021.

Deaths resulting from cardiovascular and alcohol-related issues also rose.

The finalized numbers come days after a Monday ceremony outside the County Administration building to honor deceased homeless residents on World Homeless Day.

Labor Council Leader Says It Was a Big Mistake for Unions to Support SDSU West

Brigette Browning, the executive secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, said at Politifest 2022 that unions should have never backed what is now SDSU Mission Valley.

For background, the city of San Diego sold the Mission Valley stadium land to SDSU last year in a historic deal that allowed for the construction of the new Snapdragon Stadium.

For that to happen, voters in 2018 approved Measure G, the ballot measure that mandated the city to sell the land to SDSU. Several labor unions were key and early champions of the measure.

Earlier this year, union leaders alleged that the university failed to keep some of the promises it made to them in exchange for their support of Measure G. They resolved that impasse and several labor unions have agreements with the university but bad blood remains.

“It was a big mistake,” Browning said at Politifest’s Hot Tea panel on Saturday. “I still have a very bad taste in my mouth about what happened with that.”

Read more for Browning’s full comments on the project.

In Other News

  • Helen Robbins-Meyer, who as chief administrative officer has effectively run the San Diego County government since 2012, announced Wednesday that she will retire after 25 years working for the county. The County Board of Supervisors will now decide how to replace her, but Robbins-Meyer does not have a scheduled final day specifically to give the county flexibility in finding her successor. (Times of San Diego)
  • As San Diego voters consider whether to lift the city’s ban on requiring union-friendly contracts on city construction projects, critics of construction unions and the move to repeal the ban are stressing the lack of Black people among graduates of union apprenticeship programs, as the Union-Tribune reported Thursday. 
  • Nearly half of the 2,500 students at Patrick Henry High School have come down with a respiratory illness, leading doctors to anticipate a harsh flu season on the horizon. (Union-Tribune)
  • The California Association of Realtors forecasts that housing prices will drop next year as the pace of home sales falls as well. (Times of San Diego)
  • An adult film star broke her back at TwitchCon, a sold-out convention for internet streamers at the San Diego Convention Convention Center this weekend, when she jumped into a foam pit that was part of a booth sponsored by the tech company Lenovo. (KTLA)
  • Through the first half of 2022, violent crime in San Diego had ticked up 2 percent from a year earlier, to the level it was in 2012. Property crime fell during the same period. (Times of San Diego)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Tigist Layne and edited by Andrew Keatts.

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