SAN DIEGO — Bright-colored tents spelling out “housing not handcuffs” and “end criminalization” were laid out in front of the County Administration Building along Waterfront Park Thursday morning.
The “tent vigil,” which was put on by the San Diego Housing Emergency Alliance, represents the more than 800 homeless deaths in the county from 2020-21.
The art installation was set up by the alliance for a third time this year.
“We have over-policed our approach to the unsheltered, with sweeps and removal of people and their property — of their homes,” said Yusuf Miller, with the North County Equity and Justice Coalition. “This is not a process that is compassionate, this is not a process that is humane.”
Several advocates spoke at the news conference, criticizing the way city leaders have dealt with homelessness around the city and county.
“Our mayor is not solving homelessness, our mayor is wasting your money. Study after study after study shows that criminalization perpetuates poverty, perpetuates homelessness,” said Coleen Cusack, a defense attorney for the Alliance.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office responded to the criticism in a statement, reading in part:
“Mayor Gloria has expanded shelter capacity by 25% and continues to expand the types of shelter to ensure more suitable options, including non-congregate shelter, mental and behavioral health shelter, substance abuse shelter, women’s shelter, family shelter, and Safe Parking locations for people living in their cars. We are on track to bring approximately 450 more shelter beds online this year.”