Mayor Bob Filner and a gaggle of council members and Housing Commission leaders announced on Monday an upcoming resource fair for homeless people on Jan. 30. Project Homeless Connect will match homeless people with coats, haircuts, health screenings, dental services and more at Golden Hall, downtown. Here are more details about the event and what donations organizers are seeking.
One of three dignitary leaders named as part of the fair was Bronwyn Ingram, Filner’s fiancée.
The U-T profiled Ingram this weekend and described her hopes to get involved in local discussions and efforts to combat homelessness. She thinks there’s some streamlining work to do:
“It’s such a big moral and ethical problem and so many people are working on the issue right now and have been working on the issue,” she told the U-T. “What I’m hoping to do is just bring everyone to the table in a more cooperative manner because unfortunately the way different groups have been relating to each other is in a competitive way rather than a cooperative way because there’s only so much funding.”
Last year, the vast majority of the hundreds of people who attended the resource fair were between 41 and 70 years old, the Housing Commission reported.
Filner also reiterated a massive overarching goal when it comes to homelessness in San Diego.
“We have the resources to end this scourge,” he said.
“We are going to do everything we can — everything we can! — to eliminate homelessness in San Diego,” he said. “That is our goal. … It’s unacceptable, and I know [Gloria] and I are going to work together to make sure that it ends right here in San Diego.”
I was hoping to ask Filner for more specifics on this pledge, but he left the press conference without taking questions. We’ll keep you posted when we have a chance to clarify what he means.
Meanwhile, here is a roundup of recent news stories on homelessness from here and elsewhere in recent days:
• Sydney Brumidis keeps an eye on garage sales and sale bins at craft stores to find cheap art supplies for an art therapy group she runs at a downtown homeless services center. U-T San Diego profiles Brumidis’s volunteerism:
“What she does is amazing. She needs to open an agency that is one-million blocks long,” said a resident named Diane, who came to Safe Haven in August. “We all go through so much pain here, and she gets to the heart of that. She doesn’t know how great she is.”
• An unexpected loss for North County homelessness advocates: Russell Blackwood managed a shelter in a rented warehouse for the past eight years and was planning open a new facility on Jan. 15. He died on New Year’s Day. He was 48 years old. (KPBS)
• A state lawmaker is pushing legislation to give homeless people protection from discrimination. San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is proposing the “Homeless Bill of Rights” to give some protections to people “engaging in life-sustaining activities on public property,” the Sacramento Bee reports — including “sleeping, congregating, panhandling, urinating.”
• A lawyer in Los Angeles is moving back in with his mom and letting a family he met in a homeless shelter live in his home for a year. (The Grio)
• City of Escondido officials wanted to lower crime and bring down the number of homeless people sleeping and hanging out in the city’s Grape Day Park. Their tactics? Trimmed trees and loud classical music, among them. From the U-T:
That includes playing loud classical music to make it hard for homeless people to sleep, and to make those areas seem less cool to gang members and criminals, [police Capt. Bob] Benton said.
The U-T also ran a couple of commentaries on homelessness recently:
• Downtown San Diego Partnership leaders describe a couple of programs the business group is working on to address homelessness downtown. One raises money for kits of homemaking supplies and linens for individuals who are housed in apartments after living on the streets. Another puts homeless people to work in exchange for transportation to other places where they have family.
• Patricia Cruise says two recent events show that the city needs to allocate more resources to fighting homelessness. One is the last-minute philanthropic donation from a private company to open the winter tent shelter this year. Another is a storage facility where homeless people can drop off their carts and belongings for the day — organizers have found difficulty finding a permanent place for it.
Cruise, a nun who recently became director of Father Joe’s Villages, called for a similar approach to funding homeless services as the one the arts and culture sector recently secured.
“Funding the arts to bolster tourism is important, but more critical are the immediate necessities of our neighbors in need,” she said. “Cannot a similar funding mechanism be directed to homeless services? A metropolitan destination rich in arts and culture is only appealing, after all, if it is also clean and safe.”
I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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