Mayor of Escondido Dane White at City Hall in Escondido on May 19, 2023.
Mayor of Escondido Dane White at City Hall in Escondido on May 19, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Last November, Escondido Mayor Dane White unseated the incumbent to win the mayoral race. Now, one of his biggest priorities is ramping up the city’s response to homelessness. It’s an issue with which he has some experience.

A little over a decade ago, White was homeless and severely addicted to drugs. He often slept on the streets in Escondido, the city where he grew up.

As mayor, White says he wants to do more to reduce homelessness than previous Escondido mayors did. Escondido had the second highest unsheltered population, during last year’s point-in-time count. 

White hopes to reduce the city’s homeless population by creating more addiction recovery resources and more shelters.

Read the full story here.

Related: White and other Republicans are using similar rhetoric arguing against approaches to homelessness that don’t first prioritize, or demand, substance abuse and mental health treatment before providing housing. Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, County Supervisor Jim Desmond and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells all issued statements blasting the county and city of San Diego’s effort to purchase three hotels and one apartment building to provide permanent homes for unsheltered people.

County Supervisor Joel Anderson, a Republican, however, joined with his two Democratic colleagues Tuesday to approve a plan to help the city finance the purchases.

The argument: County, state and San Diego Housing Commission officials believe providing a stable home is the first step to helping people recover from life on the streets and drug and mental health crises. The opposition believes that approach, called “housing first” is too expensive, ineffective and only encourages homelessness.

The county loans will help the city attract a portion of the $34 million in Project Homekey funds the state has set aside for local projects of this kind. City and county officials want to convert the hotels and apartments into 300 units of housing.

Here’s the CBS 8 story on the county vote.

About that KUSI Segment…

A kindergarten student listens to herself read during a class assignment at Spreckels Elementary school in University City on April 24, 2023.
A kindergarten student reads during a class assignment at Spreckels Elementary School on April 24, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

KUSI aired a segment earlier this week stoking fear that thousands of immigrants were crossing into San Diego and putting a strain on the region’s public school systems.

Managing editor Andrea Lopez-Villafaña had something to say about that. 

“This conversation struck a chord with me because I was once an immigrant child enrolled in public schools. It also stood out, because it was wrong about the situation at the border and at our schools,” wrote Lopez-Villafaña.  

Some of her points: The massive surge of immigrants many expected following the expiration of Title 42 two weeks ago didn’t happen. New Biden-issued rules mean that immigrants must still schedule an appointment before entering the United States.

The KUSI segment offered no data showing migrants were staying here in any higher numbers.

There’s no dispute that immigrant children who do stay would attend public schools, many of which are struggling.

But enrollment at San Diego Unified School District, for one, has been declining for years. The district has 18,000 fewer students than 10 years ago. School funding is tied to those numbers. 

Far from being a burden on the system, immigrant children are often its brightest success stories, Lopez-Villafaña writes. 

Read her column here.

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Will Huntsberry and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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