Politifest attendees listen to a panel on San Diego’s plan to tackle homelessness. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano
Politifest attendees listen to a panel on San Diego’s plan to tackle homelessness. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

The Homeless Reality


Homelessness is one of San Diego’s foremost humanitarian crises. At Politifest, Advocates, local officials and San Diegans with lived experience offered an unvarnished portrait of the realities of San Diego’s homelessness problem – from the challenges of housing homeless San Diegans to the impacts of police enforcement.

Panelists included:

  • Jo Barrett Homeless Advocate 
  • Steven Ried Member, Voices of Our City Choir 
  • Deacon Jim Vargas CEO, Father Joe’s Villages 
  • Chris Ward City Councilman, San Diego 
  • Mitchelle Woodson Acting Executive Director/Managing Attorney, Think Dignity
  • Andrew Bowen Metro Reporter, KPBS (moderator)

Read a transcript of the conversation here.

Supervisor Hopefuls on Housing and Transportation


The county of San Diego is changing. The Board of Supervisors could see unprecedented turnover in 2020 thanks to term limits and competitive races. The agency has a major say in development projects and regional transportation.

Panelists included:

  • Joel Anderson Former California State Senator 
  • Rafael Castellanos Commissioner, Port of San Diego 
  • Olga Diaz City Councilwoman, Escondido 
  • Ben Hueso California State Senator 
  • Sophia Rodriguez Community Activist 
  • Kenya Taylor Community Activist 

Air Pollution: The Hidden Cost of San Diego’s Housing and Transportation Crisis


In San Diego, a child born in Barrio Logan is eight times more likely to develop asthma than a child born in La Jolla. This disparity in health outcomes is a direct product of our region’s failed policies on housing and transportation. Zoning for single-family housing has facilitated sprawl development, pushing residents farther from jobs and to the fringes of our region. Continued prioritization of roads, at the expense of viable transportation options, almost ensures that residents must drive alone. As a result, San Diego residents breathe a toxic stew of air pollutants that will only become worse under a changing climate. Our transportation crisis and our housing crisis has created an air quality crisis.

Panelists included:

  • Nathan Fletcher Supervisor, County of San Diego 
  • Kevin de León President Pro Tempore, California State Senate

Read a transcript of the conversation here.

Gentrification and Housing: Impacts on Latino and Immigrant Communities


Change is a constant in American cities. But how can the state or a local government protect people from being pushed out of a neighborhood against their will due to demographic and economic forces? Should they? How do we provide economic development to low-income areas while ensuring that the residents of those areas will be the beneficiaries of the growth? Are market-based housing solutions in conflict with tenant advocacy or the historical and cultural roots of an area? This panel was conducted in Spanish with English translation available.

Panelists included:

  • Estela De Los Rios Executive Director, CSA San Diego County
  • Esperanza Gonzalez Community Activist
  • Maria Nunez City Councilwoman, City of San Marcos 
  • Jose Rodriguez-Perez Organizer, San Diego Organizing Project
  • Ana Christina Sánchez Telemundo 20 (moderator)

Development Along Transit Corridors: Morena Corridor Case Study


The Morena District Specific Plan will be one of the first in San Diego to provide needed infill density around transit stations and freeway interchanges. This panel discussed the importance of the plan to the Morena area and to the community in general. The redevelopment of the Morena District will be closely watched as the potential standard for larger-scale infill development that recognizes the importance of community character while providing needed housing and effective access to transit.

Panelists included:

  • Perry Dealy President and CEO, Dealy Development 
  • Gary London Senior Principal, London Moeder Advisors 
  • Deborah Ruane President, Norwood Development Strategies (moderator)

What Have Other Places Done to Tackle Homelessness?


Communities such as Houston and Salt Lake City have reported dramatic drops in homelessness. What did it take to get those results? We convened experts to discuss what San Diego could do to help move more people off the streets and into homes.

Panelists included:

  • Amanda Misiko Andere CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness 
  • Marc Eichenbaum Special Assistant for Homeless Initiatives, City of Houston 
  • Helene Schneider Regional Coordinator, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 
  • Lisa Halverstadt Reporter, Voice of San Diego (moderator)

Read a transcript of the conversation here.

What’s San Diego’s Plan to Tackle Homelessness, and Will it Work?


San Diego just got a plan to tackle homelessness. How will that plan work, and how much will it cost? Can San Diego finally reduce its homelessness problem? We heard from key players engaged in trying to implement that plan.

Panelists included:

  • Keely Halsey Chief of Homelessness Strategies and Housing Liaison, City of San Diego 
  • Tamera Kohler Chief Executive Officer, Regional Task Force on the Homeless 
  • Ann Marie Oliva Senior Policy Adviser, Corporation for Supportive Housing 
  • Peter Seidler Founder, Seidler Equity Partners and General Partner, San Diego Padres
  • Lisa Jones Senior Vice President of Homeless Housing Innovations, San Diego Housing Commission
  • Lisa Halverstadt Reporter, Voice of San Diego (moderator)