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Advocates for homeless march ahead of city council meeting

SAN DIEGO — Activists Saturday marched through the streets of downtown San Diego to raise awareness about homelessness.

Drums and a brass band played for all to hear as dozens walked toward Golden Hall. The musical march, organized by the Voices of Our City Choir and other homeless advocacy groups, was held two days before a special San Diego City Council meeting on the issue.

“It’s not about people who don’t want to have homes, it’s about a lot of people who can’t afford them and let’s find a way to support them in getting into homes again,” said former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

Speaking at the rally, the mayoral candidate said our homeless are often victimized and it’s a problem the city and county must address.

FOX 5 spoke to John Brady, who found himself homeless after a storm destroyed his boat. It was everything he had.

“I never thought it could happen to me. Never in my wildest dreams,” said Brady.

He said he currently has an outstanding ticket for $1,000 that police issued when he was out on the streets. He said he will never be able to pay it and it could, at some point, land him in jail. He hopes the city will consider a moratorium on tickets, which he says is adding to the homeless problem.

“We have to suffer from violence, from other homeless people that are mentally unstable, violence from people that are not homeless, that have an issue with homeless people. And we get chased around by the police,” said Brady.

Brady and others at the march would like the city council to consider decriminalizing poverty and hopes that all San Diegans will understand we all deserve a safe place to live.

“Just like me, it could happen to anybody,” said Brady.

The coalition of groups will present its ideas and solutions on keeping the homeless safe before the meeting Monday at Golden Hall.

“We’ll address the moratorium on these tickets. Let people get back on their feet, support them in getting on a path to housing. Don’t criminalize poverty,” said Saldana.

Voices of Our City Choir was created last summer for San Diegans without a place to call home. Organizers say the group has continued to grow week after week.