Serving Seniors is committed to helping seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives. The upcoming election is an excellent time for candidates to share their personal vision of a better future for San Diego’s low-income seniors. Since COVID has made it difficult to host in-person forums, we provided the candidates for San Diego City Council District 3 an alternative opportunity to share their plans to address senior homelessness in San Diego.
Senior homelessness is on the rise across the nation. San Diego’s latest 2020 Point in Time Count (PITC) recently captured this unsettling reality and reports, of San Diego’s homeless seniors, 43% are experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives. Many of them (54%) are sleeping on the sidewalk or street each night while still trying to manage chronic health conditions (50%) and physical disabilities (55%).
Here is what San Diego City Council District 3 candidates had to say about addressing senior homelessness in San Diego:
Q1: The latest PITC reports 88% of homeless seniors became homeless in San Diego. How will you demonstrate your commitment to reducing the risk of older adults aging on the streets of San Diego?
Reducing homelessness needs to continue to be a regional effort to ensuTonire resources and municipalities are working together. A sidewalk should not be a home for anyone. We have a rapidly growing aging population in San Diego. It has been reported that we are expecting to have approximately one million people aged 65 and older living in San Diego in the next decade – which is double that of today’s senior population. When the City of San Diego signed on to be an Age-Friendly Community, it was a positive step forward to ensure that we address the needs of our older community members. This means partnerships between government and local
non-profits will be making positive change around transportation, housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, community support and health services, respect and social inclusion, communication and information, and civic participation and employment.
Older adults continue to be at risk, and we must work to ensure that there are adequate facilities and trained specialists to help ensure our older adults can get back on their feet, into permanent housing with wrap around services. Just like for all our unhoused neighbors, I will ensure we put adequate funding into our programs and services and work with my Council colleagues to ensure that the recently passed community action place on homelessness is put into full effect with resources and collaboration.
As your councilmember, my #1 goal will be to make sure everyone has a comfortable home. As a senior in our community, you have spent years helping other people, and we owe it to you to make sure you have housing. If you have difficulty paying the rent, and if you are in danger of losing your apartment, I believe the city should provide financial assistance to help you pay the rent and stay in your home. It costs less for the city to provide this assistance than it costs to find new housing for someone who has lost their home. I will work to increase funding for this assistance from federal, state, and local sources. This will allow older adults to stay in their homes instead of becoming homeless. For those who are currently homeless, we must create more housing that is affordable and make sure everyone receives a home. I am the candidate who has voted in favor of affordable housing. I used to serve on the North Park Planning Committee, and I voted to approve the construction of hundreds of affordable apartments. I will do the same thing on the city council.
Q2: Once homeless, San Diego’s older adults must continue to manage chronic conditions, physical disabilities, and nutritional needs without the security and dignity offered by a home. How committed are you to redesigning San Diego’s shelter system(s) to accommodate the needs of an aging populations?
I am 100% committed to making sure San Diego’s shelter system supports your needs. We all need more than housing. We also need good health care and nutritious meals. To provide that, we need our local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to work together to be sure you have everything you need. Most health and nutrition programs are provided by the County of San Diego, and I will work closely with our county supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, to include those health and nutrition programs in shelters and affordable housing. In fact, Supervisor Fletcher supports my campaign and says I am the partner he needs at City Hall. I also want the shelter itself to be of better quality for seniors. We should not ask older adults to stay in tents. The city should provide rooms or apartments. I support the current plan to purchase two hotels and provide the rooms to people who are homeless. I think seniors should be the first to receive those rooms, and I will work to accomplish that.
I have been saying this since day 1 of the campaign… we need people at the table who are experienced with the issues at hand to make informed decisions. This is no different. We need to ensure that we have older adults, who have been or are unhoused, at the table to ensure we are making the right decisions. The same goes for our shelter system. What works for one group, might not work for the other, and I am very committed to ensuring that the system works for everyone. This also means that we need to ensure that experts working with each of these groups are also at the table sharing their knowledge as well.
Learn more about San Diego's 2020 City Council District 3 Candidates