As a concerned citizen, a small business owner, and a parent of three wonderful children, I try to stay active in the community and engaged in efforts to make sure that everyone has a fair shot at prosperity and success. Lately, many of my conversations with fellow residents turn to a subject that seems to be getting worse: the homeless crisis facing our city and state. The issue isn’t a new one, but it has become increasingly visible as our shelter spaces have filled up and a larger number of people are “sleeping rough,” the term for those who are completely unsheltered.
I care about this issue not just because I care about our community, but also because I know what it is like to wonder where you’re going to sleep at night. My mother was only a teenager when she had me, and we faced extreme poverty in my early years after my father abandoned us. Eventually, we became homeless. I am incredibly blessed to have been able to find a way out of that situation and achieved success in life, but I recognize that not everyone has access to the things they need in order to be able to rise out of poverty.
Whether you advocate for governmental and law enforcement intervention or privatization, nonprofits, and charity solutions, all of the options to address homelessness must be viewed through the lens of a recent Supreme Court Decision (Martin vs. Boise), which effectively affirmed that if cities do not provide sufficient shelters for the homeless, people are legally allowed to live in public and sleep outside.
Currently, we do not have enough shelter beds in Oceanside. Last year, one of our local shelters experienced a 40% rental rate increase
. Subsequently, the shelter was unable to reopen. This has resulted in a loss of 50 beds
to service the homeless population here in Oceanside. Because of this closure, as well as a lack of focus on the shelter element, our shortage of beds means that homeless people are allowed to live in public. For this reason, I am an advocate for tiny homes
because I believe this can serve as a short-term stop-gap measure to address the homeless crisis here in Oceanside and meet our quota requirement to get people off the streets. I also think we need to be looking at other cities for best practices and innovation, like “Housing First” initiatives or 3-D printing of homes.
Oceanside has spent far too much time, effort and energy focusing on law enforcement–ticketing and citing the homeless–rather than a comprehensive solution which involves advocating for our fair share of grant funding to address the issue from the county and state. The vast majority of homeless people do not want to be unsheltered. But many suffer from mental health issues, addiction, or have financial challenges like past evictions that make getting housing more challenging. We need more resources to be able to help these people get back on track in their lives. But in the last HEAP grant, designed to tackle homelessness, we only received approximately $200,000
, when our apportionment should have been closer to $1 Million — we didn’t spend enough time working to get this funding.
Our city cannot afford to house the world’s homeless population, but we can be proactive in dealing with the state and county to get our fair share of funding to address the problem here and we can be smart about how we allocate that funding. Most importantly, we must address this with the compassion and empathy we would want to be met with if we ourselves were struggling.
I’m running for Mayor because I believe that our next city leader needs to be a person who has a deep understanding of the challenges facing our city and who will work hard to make sure that we have the resources we need to solve this crisis. I have #MajorLoveforOside, and with your support, we can greatly improve our city’s response to the homeless crisis and make this a place where everyone has the chance to thrive. Our people-powered, grassroots campaign has been engaging with members of the community in “neighborhood pop ups” and on a listening tour at major public events in recent months.
I do not accept contributions from corporations or SuperPACs, and rely on small dollar donations from others committed to getting rid of the corruption in our government. I need your help to make sure that our message gets to all of the change agents in this city who will show up on Election Day to vote for #MajorChange.
The election for Mayor of Oceanside will be held on November 3, 2020.
(Above Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash)