Not only do renters struggle, but too many people find themselves without a home at all. Worst of all, an estimated 17% of people homeless in the City of San Diego are veterans, who served our country honorably but are now left to fend for themselves on the streets. Nationally, as many as 50,000 veterans are homeless in January. In addition, in San Diego, 23% of our homeless population suffer from chronic mental illness. We can do better. We can end homelessness. For example, Virginia recently became the first state in the nation to effectively end veteran homelessness; Las Vegas and two cities in New York state have done the same. It is time San Diego steps up to do the same, for all people. I will fight for a program to find, house, and provide social support to any homeless person in our city.
In addition, I will follow the example of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the city recently implemented a program to end pan handling. Instead of punishing people, the city sends a bus from street corner to corner to find people and employ them for the day in service of city projects. At the end of the day, when people collect their pay, they can be connected with social services to identify and address any underlying issues that resulted in the person being on the street in the first place. A program like Albuquerque’s results in a cleaner, more beautiful city. It inspires people by giving them a sense of pride from doing something meaningful. It gives an opportunity to connect people in need with services. It’s just the right thing to do.