In our feature, Kelly Davis writes about the reasons San Diego's liberal advocates are excited about the new government that'll be ushered in when Bob Filner takes his seat in the Mayor's office.
We'd like to add another one: homelessness.
At a Monday-morning news conference announcing that United Healthcare had donated $250,000 to the San Diego Housing Commission to help fund the annual temporary winter homeless shelter, Filner repeated his vow to end homelessness in our city.
In some respects, San Diego has made great strides in combating homelessness, particularly when it comes to the chronically homeless. The United Way of San Diego County and the San Diego Downtown Partnership both have programs up and running that place chronically homeless folks in apartment units and offer them services to help address their problems. But the momentum appears to be slipping.
Under the Jerry Sanders administration, the thinking was that all the city has do is open the so-called Connections Housing project—the laudable facility that will contain 73 studio apartment units with supportive services, 16 rooms for "special crisis" folks and 134 short-termstay beds—and there'll be no more need for an emergency winter shelter. That's nonsense.
Let's review the numbers: During its 2012 point-in-time count this past January, the San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless found 6,379 homeless people in the city of San Diego. Of those, 3,623 were unsheltered. The count found 1,102 unsheltered people in Downtown alone.
Money that's typically gone to the emergency shelter was funneled this year into Connections Housing. When the project met building-renovation problems, it was delayed, and the city had to erect the winter shelter again. United Healthcare stepped up to help. But the numbers show that even when Connections Housing is running on all cylinders by next winter, there will still be a need for additional shelter. We trust that Filner understands that and will find the money in next year's budget.
And we expect that he'll also find a way to help the nonprofit Girls Think Tank continue to operate a facility where 315 homeless people, currently, can store their belongings in plastic trash bins. The so-called Check-In Center lost its home recently and is temporarily sited in a parking lot at 16th and Commercial streets, but it has to be gone by the end of the year. Girls Think Tank urgently needs a new location—preferably enclosed—as well as continued funding for operational costs. (You can help by donating at crowdrise.com/girlsthinktankstorage.)
We subscribe to the old axiom "The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members." We believe that Filner gets that.
Adieu, D.A. Kolodenko
Seven years ago, an Ocean Beach man sent a letter to the editor to CityBeat. It was a critique of Starbucks, and it was so eloquently written that we asked him if he was interested in writing a regular column. Thus, "Presently Tense," written by D.A. Kolodenko, was born.
As you'll see, Kolodenko has decided to end his current column, "Inside a Whale's Vagina," which replaced "Presently Tense" in 2011 and whose name, obviously, is an homage to what's possibly the best movie ever made about San Diego, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Kolodenko's been a passionate purveyor of opinions for us on an array of matters, particularly animal rights, vegetarianism and the environment. Often, he had interesting takes on obscure national wire stories. He even made news himself in early 2011, when he launched a crusade against a campaign to name the Coronado Bridge after Ronald Reagan. But what he was really good at was writing reflective columns that talked about the way San Diego was when he was growing up and placed the subject matter at hand in a contemporary context. From a cultural standpoint, Kolodenko was our institutional memory.
He's the second columnist who's called it quits recently; Aaryn Belfer left last month. We're in the process of replacing both writers, and we hope to announce something soon. For now, we'll thank Kolodenko for his contributions and wish him the best of luck in his new project.
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