We are disappointed by the short-sighted vote that five members of the San Diego City Council took last night to choose a ban of homeless encampments over a plan to house the unsheltered. While the City presented ideas for increasing shelter facilities and camping areas, those ideas were not accompanied by the resources needed to provide adequate, safe sleeping for unhoused community members. The fact remains that our temporary shelters are nearly full and are out of reach for thousands of people in San Diego.
The new encampment ban will criminalize unsheltered people simply for sleeping, subjecting them to fines and arrests at all times in certain areas, including outside of shelters that have no room for them but provide access to bathrooms, meals, and services. Let’s be clear: the ban penalizes the condition of poverty and does nothing to help people get back on their feet.
The vote last night ignored best practices and the City’s own 2019 Community Action Plan on Homelessness, all of which caution against encampment bans because they disrupt the ability to assist the unsheltered community with case management that leads to housing and services. In ignoring best practices, the City jeopardizes grant funding for the thing that San Diego needs most — affordable housing.
We applaud the councilmembers — Sean Elo-Rivera, Monica Montgomery, Kent Lee, and Vivan Moreno — who understood the information before them, heard the voices of housing experts and unsheltered community members, and voted against the ban, because it was not a plan. These councilmembers acted in good governance and centered human dignity, which is what we need from all elected officials.
ABOUT ALLIANCE SAN DIEGO
Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community organization that is building collective power to create a more inclusive democracy, one where all people can participate with dignity in an environment of harmony, safety, equality and justice. We pursue this mission by developing leaders, engaging the community, advocating for policies, communicating strategically, and protecting human rights.