While communities across the region continue to struggle with addressing the root causes of homelessness, schools are dealing with the consequences. As such, they must be active partners in efforts to provide the homeless with a way up and out of these circumstances.
If you take one high-profile count of the region’s homeless at face value, you’d assume homelessness in the South Bay is dropping. But a closer look reveals many homeless families there are hidden out of sight, a reality that has real implications for some of the most vulnerable populations in the South Bay.
Communities with visibly large homeless populations sleeping on the streets tend to attract more money and resources to combat the problem. Because of the hidden nature of South Bay homelessness, there are far fewer resources there to help struggling residents and families.
Last school year, one-third of students in the San Ysidro School District were identified as homeless. In this short web documentary, Catalina Rios discusses her family’s struggle to find and afford stable housing. After living in a junkyard, Rios and her children now crowd into a tiny trailer.
San Ysidro’s demographics and its location on the border contribute to a unique set of housing woes. “I can’t get my green card without an address, I can’t work without a green card and I can’t afford an apartment without work,” said one resident whose struggle is familiar to many community members.
Schools in the South Bay have become a hub for homeless students and their families to find everything from a place to shower to help with school enrollment to assistance applying for public benefits.
When a 15-year-old was killed by a semi-truck in Otay Mesa in 2014, news reports focused on the fact that the teen was on her phone. No one asked why she was walking in an industrial area where few pedestrians ever go. The answer: She was walking home from school. Home was a junkyard.
Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas backed SANDAG’s Measure A, successfully lobbied for a tax increase in Chula Vista to fund infrastructure upgrades and boosts housing developments in the South Bay and beyond. But both she and Chula Vista still struggle to get a seat at the table when it comes to SANDAG and the projects it oversees.
At the end of 2015, San Diego County had 114 breweries and brewpubs – only two of which were in the South Bay. Citing low incomes and its minority-majority population, some brewers, sales representatives and distributors have assumed residents there only have taste buds for Bud Light, Corona and Dos Equis. A recent boom in breweries and tasting rooms is proving them wrong.
After Ditas Yamane’s involvement in a matter where the proper use of taxpayer funds was brought into question, she is now running for treasurer of National City, a position that oversees the management, budgeting and use of the city and taxpayer funds. Yamane said the case isn’t reflective of her abilities to serve as city treasurer.