Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the two arrested men used a hotel voucher program for parolees.
EL CAJON, Calif. — El Cajon city leaders hosted another town hall Wednesday dedicated to addressing homelessness.
This came after a minor was allegedly sexually assaulted at a motel. The two men arrested by police were using a hotel voucher program for parolees.
This is the third of four homelessness town halls in El Cajon. The city focused this session on tackling mental illness and substance abuse issues.
El Cajon city leaders are working with residents to develop ideas to tackle these issues among the homeless.
“There has to be better outreach,” said El Cajon resident Violenta Lomber. “I see the homeless in my area and I see the treatment that they’re given sometimes and it’s not humane.”
“Drug abuse and mental health of a lot of those individuals is in severe need of an overhaul and put under a microscope and funding needs to be diverted in those areas,” said Todd Bleichwehl, another El Cajon resident.
City leaders say before those issues are addressed, the issue of affordable housing is mute.
City leaders say the reality is that El Cajon is one of the top three cities in the county with the most affordable housing. But those top cities are also the ones with the highest amounts of homelessness in the county.
“How can we get all the other jurisdictions in this county to pull their fair share and pull their weight in terms of providing affordable housing but also proving homeless services,” said El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell.
The city says El Cajon has just 3% of the county’s population but 16% of the county’s homeless.
City leaders and El Cajon residents are calling on other cities across San Diego County to increase their homeless services and step up.
“Step up, San Diego,” says Lomber. “We are a whole. It’s not just El Cajon. It’s all of us. Unite. Step up.”
The fourth homelessness town hall is set for May 4.