This is Part Two in a series on the hidden homeless families of San Diego’s South Bay. Read Part One here.
Mirinda Quillopo keeps baby wipes in her office, just in case students don’t have a place to shower. Veronica Medina stocks her shelves with backpacks and shoes. Molly Ravenscroft has a bag of clothes in her car at any given time.
They all work for public school districts in the South Bay of San Diego County. Their jobs are to ensure that even the most impoverished students have a chance at an education by helping them meet their most basic needs.
These women play a part in what has become a common role for public schools in poorer neighborhoods. Schools in the South Bay are now providing students with far more than an education – they’ve become a hub for students and their families to find everything from a place to shower to help with school enrollment to assistance applying for public benefits.
Schools use different criteria to define homelessness than organizations that do official counts of homeless populations. For a child to be homeless in the eyes of the Department of Education, they need to “lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”
That means if a child is couch-surfing, or if they and their family are living in a motel, trailer park, campground, substandard or overcrowded living situation or in an emergency or homeless shelter – schools consider them homeless.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Another Great Article with wonderful new information.
"Schools can’t provide housing."
In other parts of the State, there is talk about potential affordable public housing for teachers on school owned properties. What specific State law says that public schools cannot provide housing for students and their families on public property? Schools can already provide affordable housing opportunities, forgivable loans, and grants for Teachers.
In 2015 State Law Government Code Sections 54220-54223 on public Local Agency Excess Surplus Properties changed to goal to maximize Affordable Housing First, Open Space, and Park Land. So far neither the Schools, or City and County of San Diego have updated their Council Policies that still promote maximum revenue generation over Affordable Housing First.
With new Government Code Sections 54220-54223 effective January 1, 2015, Local Agencies like the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) can no longer sell off public land assets for Budgetary reasons or pay increases. Instead the SDUSD is Leasing their public land for privately Luxury Apartments/Condos, instead of Affordable Housing First.
Please reinvestigate if Public Schools can or cannot provide housing to student and their families. What specific State law disallows housing on existing opened or closed school campuses? Also should SDUSD Excess Surplus property be used first for Affordable Housing, or is Luxury Apartment/Condos to generate maximum Lease Revenue the goal?
Craig, we bus our homeless out too:
IMHO, many are concerned about distinguishing the truly needy from those who might fraudulently game the system. Ravenscroft, (the aforementioned family services program coordinator) is the right person to make the call. I'd like to see her have more access to resources and the power to distribute them to those who are truly needy. It even appears she's in a position to distinguish those who are in 'unstable living situations' - those who do have a roof over their head, "get to stay" with abuela, and are probably second-in-line behind those who lack the basic necessities.
Hopefully at some point in this series Maya will address where the homeless came from and why. We have all read about other cities putting their homeless on a one way bus to SD. How large are those numbers compared to illegals? What does it cost in terms of public assistance, what are the impact on schools?
I have zero faith in a government (who can't fill the potholes) to solve the homeless problem, but I also wonder if we wrote a blank check and put every homeless person in a new home...would new homeless move right in like the tide? If I was homeless in Chicago or Detroit I'd get on that pre-paid Greyhound in a nanosecond.