Community addresses city leaders on homelessness & affordable housing

SAN DIEGO -- Nearly 200 community members packed Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Monday to share their concerns over the homeless and lack of affordable housing.

For parishioners and parents who have kids enrolled in the church's Catholic school, worry over the homeless community continues to grow, especially with the Hepatitis A outbreak.

“The homelessness encampments, the smell, the drug use that goes on,” said Ashley Ziegaus of Logan Heights. “Just this evening, our principal found a needle on his way to this meeting, so our children are in danger.”

Currently, San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in the nation. Between 1995 and 2016, the county lost over 3,500 affordable rental units.

City Council member David Alvarez said there used to be thousands of single-room occupancy studios that housed low-income residents in San Diego.

“It’s a coincidence, but maybe not, that there are almost 10,000 homeless people in San Diego today. That’s the same number of units that use to exist in downtown San Diego,” said Alvarez.

The meeting also addressed those on the verge of homelessness due to the lack of affordable housing.

“It’s almost like San Diego has turned into a big gentrified thing, where if you're not rich or whatever, you're being pushed out," said student Juan Carlos Jimenez Cruz.

The group agreed to hold a day of action to show support for opening vacant public facilities to house the homeless, such as the old downtown library.