By Miriam Raftery
October 30, 2021 (San Diego) – On Tuesday, Supervisors approved a measure introduced by Supervisor Joel Anderson to bring help to homeless people in East County.
The new ordinance gives staff 120 days to propose locations for homeless shelters in unincorporated areas, as well as safe parking lots for people living in vehicles. The sites will have wrap-around services, so homeless families and individuals will receive support to get off the streets.
“The goal is to put these individuals on a path towards stability, independence, and employment,” says Anderson.
“We have the highest number of homeless individuals in the region and we wanted to make sure that there are safe locations,” Anderson told his fellow Supervisors. “We have a lot of folks that are living in cars, looking at the possibility of parking lots that would be safe for them, looking at alternate housing types. We feel that it’s really important to give people a path, just like everywhere else in the county. Earlier this year, Supervisors Lawson- Remer and Desmond had a pilot program that they’re doing in North County and I admired that, and am hoping that we can forward on this so that my district has access to shelters.”
View video of his remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgNMovXuYXY
There are currently no homeless shelters in the unincorporated areas in Anderson’s District 2, which spans 2,000 miles across East County. The only homeless shelter in the district is a privately-run shelter with support from the city of El Cajon.
Of 4,350 East County residents who received services to prevent or end homeless recently, 1,850 of those were families with children, according to a fact sheet provided by Anderson’s office. Of 10,322 calls made to 2-1-1 from people who said they were homeless, 42% lived in District 2.
The district includes communities such as Lemon Grove, El Cajon and Campo, which have media household incomes of $55,000 – far under the media county income of $95,100.
A broad spectrum of East County leaders and homeless advocacy groups spoke in favor of the measure.
Bonnie Baranoff from the East County Homeless Task Force said, “It’s time to acknowledge and address the root causes of homelessness in East County,” adding, “It’s time to create shelters and provide relief.”
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wills said, “Having the County of San Diego at the table with the other East County cities is paramount. This proposal does that and takes a momentous effort in demonstrating the County’s commitment to addressing homelessness.”
Judith Scheur with Hope for the Homeless Lakeside agreed, calling Anderson’s assessment of the situation “very accurate.” She added, “I applaud him for doing the research to come up with the correct information there. East County really needs the help.”
Other groups in support included Jewish Family Services, Serving Seniors, People Assisting the Homeless, Dreams for Change, and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
Anderson’s proposal was amended to expand his plan countywide at the request of Supervisor Terra-Lawson Remer to meet similar needs in Escondido. Supervisor Nora Vargas indicated South County also needs more services.
Anderson thanked his colleagues on the County Board of Supervisors for their support. In an email to his constituents, adding that the action kept a campaign promise he made to help resolve homelessness.
His email concludes, ‘I know that this is going to help many but won’t help everyone. But this is the beginning of my efforts and we will continue to work hard until there’s help for everyone in my district.”