Weeks-long wait lists are a constant reality for homeless people seeking shelter in San Diego yet some of the beds reserved for San Diego police to offer homeless people they encounter sit empty.
Reports to the city revealed just a 73 percent occupancy rate for the 50 shelter beds operated by the San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team last year.
That’s far below the more than 95 percent occupancy reported by the two other city-funded shelter programs for single adults, including one run out of the same East Village campus that’s operated by Father Joe’s Villages rather than the HOT team.
Stories about homeless people rejecting police offers of shelter beds and other services are regularly mentioned in conversations about San Diego’s struggle to address a growing homelessness crisis. Last year, police say just 14 percent of homeless San Diegans who interacted with the HOT team were placed into shelter or treatment – an increase from the previous year.
For many, those stories are proof many living on the street aren’t interested in help.
Homeless San Diegans, city officials and the lieutenant who leads the HOT team say the reality is more complicated.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The ongoing challange with the homeless population, and the many solutions offered, is that many of those who are homeless remain so because they prefer that to abiding by the rules in any of the programs designed to help. Mental illness, drugs, alcohol, and the desire to keep "stuff" or pets, all get in the way of people getting off the street.
Until we are honest about why people are homeless, we will not be able to make any progress, or create solutions that work. We have empty beds, and open beds every night. We are afraid to force people to use them. Our urban camper population will continue to grow until the health crisis it is causing creates a back lash of enough people saying "enough" .
@Glenn Younger Enough!