In recent weeks you may have heard about the outbreak of Hepatitis A in San Diego. As of this post, 16 people have died, and another 400+ have been hospitalized from Hepatitis A. The homeless population has been hardest hit, and there is no wonder why. Until recently, there have not been many stations that where those who are homeless could go to wash their hands, or even use the restroom. To further complicate the situation, California has banned single use plastic bags last November. Coincidentally, the outbreak of Hepatitis A also started last November. We aren’t saying that any one single thing contributed to the Hepatitis A outbreak, but there is an outbreak that we are all dealing with.
In response to the outbreak, the City has ordered the places frequented/populated by those who are homeless to be power sprayed with a bleach solution to kill the disease. As part of this process, many “sweeps” have been taking place. A sweep is where the homeless are dislocated from their place of rest. This often means a few things can happen:
- They will simply be asked to pack up their belongings and move
- Asked to leave, but their belongings are thrown away OR
- if they weren’t present during the sweep, their belongings are thrown away
- Cited and given a ticket (usually for which they can’t afford to pay)
- Arrested for outstanding warrants and tickets (sometimes from item 3 above)
- Offered admission to a mental care facility.
There really isn’t much happiness and pleasure that comes during a sweep. To be fair, signs are posted in advance of the sweeps, but where is one to go when they have no where to go? This question has been raised often enough, and the new answer is that as of today, there will be tents available for the homeless to go to.
Great News, but wait!
Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that tents will be put up to get hundreds of homeless individuals and families off of the street (read more here). These tents/facilities will be equipped with restrooms, hand-washing stations, showers and supportive services. As an organization that has worked with this population since 2013, we were thrilled that facilities were going up, and that supportive services will be attached to them! With these new facilities and the frequent sweeps, we wanted to survey the “lay of the land” for our upcoming event. As we drove around downtown and through East Village, there were noticeably fewer encampments. After driving by several of our usual spots, we stopped to ask the downtown partnership security about the changes. They weren’t sure where everyone went, or where they staying, but noted that if we were to come by later in the evening or earlier in the morning (before 7:00 AM), we would see more people on the streets. We asked about the tents, and were told that the project was being coordinated by the Alpha project. We didn’t find the Alpha project where the security staff mentioned we could find them.
After driving around looking for the Alpha projects and the new Tent/Facilities location (20th & B), we went to the Neil Good Day Center (NGDC). This is the one stop shop if one is homeless or recently homeless. They provide homeless individuals with access to mail services, a laundry facility, showers, and a safe environment away from the city streets during the day. The NGDC also offers San Diegans case management, medical and counseling services, legal assistance, a computer lab, and storage for belongings. If anyone should know anything about the newly announced facilities they would know!
Much to our surprise, the front desk staff mentioned that they hadn’t received any information as to how to get enrolled to take advantage of the new service. As of 11:30 this morning, they hadn’t received any information from the Alpha project. Many of their patrons have inquired about it, but there wasn’t any information to give. We asked for the phone number to the alpha project to reach out to gather information.
To be continued
After leaving the Neil Good Day Center with not much more information than we arrived regarding the new facilities, we called the number provided to the Alpha project. We were pleasantly surprised that someone answered almost immediately! We asked about the facilities and their locations. We are almost certain that they will be at 20th and B, but were told we should check back later to confirm. We then asked how would one go about enrolling to get a spot in the new tents. We were told that as of that moment, the person on the other line was not sure about the intake process. We were told that the priority at the moment is going toward families and not homeless individuals. While this wasn’t great news, it was good news. Women and children were going to be made the priority in getting a spot. We asked how would a family go about getting on the list. We were shocked that the person again reiterated that they weren’t sure about the intake process. They took down our information, and will call us back when more information is known. We will be sharing in the coming days whether or not we heard back, so please check back for more on this story.
We are here to help
Our mission is to provide security, stability, and support to those who are homeless or facing homelessness. We think that it is great that some much needed facilities are going up, and this is hopefully the start to really looking into ways we can stunt others from becoming homeless, and help those who find themselves homeless out of homelessness. To that end, we have many talented volunteers willing to assist the City, the Alpha Project, and any organizations directly working with helping the homeless. From outreach to project management, we are able and willing to help. As we follow along as to what information we receive, we will be sharing that information with our partners to make sure those who need it has access to it.
We would like to hear your thoughts on the homeless situation here in San Diego, or in your area if you aren’t in San Diego. What programs do you think would make the biggest impact in helping those who are homeless or facing homelessness.