SAN DIEGO – It’s an issue people are passionate about across San Diego, but Thursday evening the topic of homelessness, and what’s being done about it, came to University Heights.

“It is far and away the number one concern that is expressed to my council office,” said Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who represents District 3.

Community members say they didn’t want to just raise the issues, but they also wanted to come up with solutions.

“Everybody can complain about the problem, but unless you’re willing to step up and do something or come up with a solution, then it’s just blah blah blah,” said University Heights resident Deborah Morrison. 

The Office of Homeless Solutions said it was looking to set up services in communities that have never had anything to offer the homeless population locally.

“Whether that’s supportive housing, safe camping, or a shelter, people always say that they don’t want it in their backyard. It’s always something that people say should be downtown. Well, we know that people don’t experience homelessness only in downtown,” said Tyler Renner, director of media for People Assisting The Homeless (PATH).

Whitburn brought up the top challenges to combat homelessness like housing costs, enforcement and shelter capacity, to which he plans to introduce a safe sleeping initiative.

“The plan is to take a parking lot downtown away from residences away from businesses where we will screen it off for privacy and it will have two primary elements. It will have a tent shelter that will accommodate hundreds of people and it will also have safe sleeping sites,” Whitburn said.

Residents say they want to take the information they learned in Thursday’s meeting and use that to be more involved in homeless solutions, which will hopefully reduce the amount of incidents happening in the area.