Aug 19, 2016
Lewis Keller lived in his van, even while working a full-time job.
The Navy veteran said when he made the decision to live in his vehicle, he was making about $40,000 a year. But after taxes, child support and other bills, the only rent the recent divorcé could afford was moving in with a roommate. He opted for living solo in his van instead.
Keller's situation isn't uncommon. This year's annual survey by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless found that almost 21 percent of homeless respondents reported being employed.
Keller, who now lives in an apartment at Alpha Square, the Alpha Project's downtown complex that houses formerly homeless and very low-income people, joined hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts on the podcast this week to offer his take on the city's growing homeless problem. He said he puts the brunt of the blame on San Diego's limited housing stock.
"The primary issue seems to me is there just isn't enough housing," he said. "I don't think we can fix this problem overnight. ... There's a need to bring on about 10,000 units per month to even make a dent in the homeless issue that we're facing."
He said some people opt to live on the streets because they don't like the rules or hurdles that come with tapping into the shelter system or other government support programs. For folks like him, he said if affordable apartments were available, they'd no longer be homeless.
"How can we address this issue and get better results?" he said. "Because the efficacy we're experiencing right now is failure."
Also on this week's podcast, Lewis and Keatts discuss just how hard it's going to be to get a subsidized football stadium built in this town, and they praise the Homeless Awareness Day efforts, including VOSD's coverage of the spike in homeless in the East Village despite the ongoing gentrification and a look at the problems with housing vouchers. They're also excited about Politifest's upcoming awesomeness.
Hats off to the city of San Diego and Mayor Kevin Faulconer for quickly responding to criticism about long 9-1-1 emergency call wait times. The city rolled out a series of policy changes to help solve the issues and, a few months into the changes, average wait times have fallen and the percentage of calls answered within 10 seconds has gone up.
An audit of the state gang database, CalGang, outlined the many failings in the system, including not ensuring individuals' right to privacy, major flaws in how names are entered and purged from the system and an error that resulted in 42 people in the system recorded as being younger than age 1 at the time of entry.