By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher, San Diego Voice & Viewpoint Newspaper
As more and more people are making homelessness a priority with discussions on how to address the problem, there is one topic connected to the conversation that just doesn’t get discussed. That topic is the role of landlords, rents, evictions, security deposits and the real number of vacant units as opposed to “affordable” units.
It should be clear now that not every homeless person is mentally ill or the victim of some kind of addiction. It should be clear that not all homeless persons are the same. Many today are the victims of landlord greed with uncontrolled rent increases. Recent data from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness is showing that many people are short term homeless: that they are able to secure unsubsidized housing; some move in with friends and relatives short term or, according to the Task Force CEO, just need short term stays in a shelter.
The real elephant in the room is the landlords, and the owners of the many vacant units sitting empty because people either can’t qualify because of low income or the lack of what can be as much as a $5,000.00 security deposit with first and last month rents required. With 49 percent of the county residents being renters and that number growing due to foreclosures and loss of property ownership, when do we address those many landlords who are not participating in Section 8 subsidized rentals while still evicting people. There must be a serious look at available housing as well as affordable housing with an idea toward moving more available housing into the marketplace of affordable housing.
It has already been reported by the Task Force that 6,755 people countywide who were once homeless, found homes without assistance; that 1,373 homeless individuals reported move-ins with family. These numbers are an improvement over past years. Over past years, 4,113 San Diegans needed assistance that the above group didn’t need.
Once again we are saying that the homeless need to get involved in the political process. You don’t count only if you treat yourself as if you don’t count.
Just as you are allowed to vote while homeless, one can come to the table and get off the menu. The minimum wage and the cost of living in San Diego must line up to eradicate homelessness. The very meaningful ACTION PLAN: Addressing Homelessness Among Black San Diegans, from last year, must not be put on a shelf. We must monitor the degree to which inclusion, based on the report’s focus groups and recommendations, is heading toward becoming a reality.
What do you think? Let us hear from you.
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