The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Carlsbad Grapples With Homelessness, Attempts Strategic Planning

Georgia Scherrer
A specific section of the Carlsbad City Council chambers is dedicated to the housing and care of homeless individuals. A department of individuals works as a team to ensure the status and well-being of shelters and that resources are allocated for.

The city of Carlsbad in San Diego County is home to roughly 115,302 people and houses individuals ranging from health care providers, government employees, everyday heroes and the necessary workers that citizens interact with on a daily basis. 

However, in the last decade, homelessness has become more prevalent in large cities as well as smaller communities such as the Carlsbad and Oceanside areas. 

San Diego Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton has noticed an increase in her cases involving homeless individuals as well as her own experiences by living in Carlsbad herself. 

“In the last 10 years, it has worsened. I grew up in San Diego, and we’ve always had homeless individuals – but never like this,” Breton said.

Multiple government policy additions, in conjunction with the rising tax and inflation prices, have contributed to the rise in those seeking sanctuary in both government properties and shelters. Breton gave valuable insight into some of the conflicting political features that led to the change as both a resident and an important asset to her community. 

The Carlsbad seal is posted in numerous places around the city of Carlsbad council building. It represents Carlsbad by showing the California “birds of paradise” flower, an axe to commemorate the Carlsbad indigenous people and the ocean that surrounds most of Carlsbad. This seal shows the importance of Carlsbad’s citizens and protecting residents both in housing and currently without. (Georgia Scherrer)

However, she noted that she was speaking solely in her own capacity based on 32 years of experience as a prosecutor and not on behalf of any governmental office. Breton acknowledged multiple policies that she believes correlated to the rise in homelessness over the past decade. 

On Nov. 4,  2014, the city of San Diego passed Proposition 47, or the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” This decriminalized the use of recreational drugs caused theft up to $949 to become a misdemeanor (in correlation to drug usage) and reclassified felonies to become misdemeanors as well. 

Combined with Assembly Bill 109, which passed in 2011 and allowed for the possible “transition of supervised persons from homelessness into permanent housing” according to the probation sector within the Los Angeles County Police Department. The influx of felons in the county level led to increased congestion of county police departments, and ultimately left many individuals homeless without adequate support.

Parents beg me to keep their addicted adult children in jail and not just release them, because the parents know their child will just get out and use again, and possibly overdose or become a crime victim themselves,” Breton said. 

“If they are in custody, they can sober up and make a rational decision,” Breton continues. “But now there’s no room in county jails and little to no incentive to get clean and at the end of the day they have to prioritize the really bad guys.”

Both Breton and Carlsbad Mayor Keith Blackburn cite the risks and benefits of Senate Bill 43 in supporting homelessness. The bill represents mainly the 30% of homeless individuals who are mentally disabled and would obtain them a conservator who would then be responsible for ensuring financial welfare and physical wellbeing. This conservator would either be hired by the state or could possibly be a family member or trusted representative. 

Mayor Keith Blackburn smiles and poses with third graders who visited City Council for a quick civics class. The students were able to ask questions, tour city chambers and meet Mayor Blackburn himself.​ Questions and photos were conducted in the city chambers where city hall meetings are held and bring to light city conflicts such as homelessness. (Georgia Scherrer)

“Here’s the problem. Say, I’m going to try to get you a conservator. The process is two years, the way it’s laid out right now and that’s only handling one person. So how many people can we add to this system before someone actually falls under a conservatorship?” Blackburn said to acknowledge the timely process needed to support simply one person. 

With this and the added tensions that may arise between the DA and Prosecution, the bill will hopefully do more good than harm. 

The bill was passed by members of the California State Senate on May 18, 2023.

The fight to prioritize and communicate the importance of establishing shelters and resources for homeless individuals has become more prevalent than ever with the establishment of two new plans created by the City Council in Carlsbad to target the main factors of homelessness. 

One of the plans announced aims to last from 2023 to 2027 and will continually update a specified budget for homelessness. The second plan mainly focuses on population and modifies a census or rough estimate of those who are seeking shelter to better exemplify the need for resources in Carlsbad. 

Blackburn and the Carlsbad City Council are working as a team to better grasp and develop tactics to respond to homelessness, but as always, conflicts arise with important and possibly controversial topics. 

Breton and Blackburn elected not to focus on one of the contributing factors to homelessness, not just in Carlsbad, but nationwide. The increase in inflation and tax prices that have tormented families across the country in the past 10 years has been increasingly difficult for families to manage. According to the US Government Accountability Office, “a $100 increase in median rent was associated with a 9% increase in the estimated homelessness rate.”

Because of how detrimental a single spike in rent, groceries or even gas prices can be, California residents are seeing an increase of people out on the streets due to the inability to pay the costs of relocating or provide adequate rent for housing originally. 

Carlsbad is highlighted in dark purple, which is shown to be significantly higher cost of living than the median 100. The surrounding areas, including Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside are all relatively less expensive areas than Carlsbad. (Photo from OpenStreetMap (CC BY-SA 2.0))

According to Quick Haven Transitional Shelters, 38.9% of those who are homeless elect not to seek out registered shelters as of 2020. A myriad of factors may prevent someone from seeking housing such as lack of availability, not allowing pets, not being able to accommodate handicaps and an increased chance of being attacked or assaulted for mainly women and children including 72.2% of women who had been assaulted and 55.9% that had been raped.

In spite of these challenges, one shelter in particular is fighting against the odds with one goal. The La Posada Men’s Shelter in Carlsbad is one of the positive solutions the city has seen. Its goal is to prioritize the health and well-being of homeless residents that are making reasonable efforts to find housing as well as help them find employment opportunities. 

Ms. Yolanda at the shelter emphasized her gratitude for the city of Carlsbad, who used two million dollars of government assistance to expand the shelter into a women’s and children’s housing unit as well.  But with all of the new steps the shelter takes to better their community, Catholic Charities, the organization that oversees La Posada and numerous other shelters in California, is also in dire need of food donations, clothing donations and sanitary necessities. Because it is a non-profit organization, monetary donations are also appreciated. 

Blackburn believes that La Posada is just the step that Carlsbad needs to continue the betterment of and community’s welfare regarding homelessness. 

“The city has contributed a lot, and there are also other funding sources coming in. But it’s very well supervised, it’s not just throwing a whole bunch of males and females and children together. It’s well supervised and people will be staying in different areas. And I’m very critical of giving away housing and tax dollars, but in this case, I think it’s a really good project,” Blackburn said.

The shelter’s mission statement speaks for itself and the truly inspiring path that the shelter is taking. The shelter’s goal is “to provide a safe, supportive environment and opportunities for men with few or no resources to gather, begin, and continue self-help efforts.” And soon enough, that statement will include women, children and families. 

With the active support and advocacy from the city of Carlsbad and the San Diego County government, positive steps are being taken to eradicate the hardships that are often found with being homeless. However, this process is one that no city has yet to fully master. 

“There’s no answer, and we’re trying our best. We hire experts and all experts have different opinions. We try something and if it doesn’t work, we just try something else,” Blackburn said. “We watch what’s going on successfully in other cities. But nobody has been successful to eradicate homelessness, but we try to see what’s working.”

The City of Carlsbad’s Housing and Homeless Services Department and council as a whole continue working diligently and as a team in order to provide shelter and safety to those in the homeless community. City council meetings are held on a regular basis, and residents are encouraged to voice their concerns, opinions and ideas on the topic during each conference. 

Those ideas will ultimately be the voice of the city and the voice of the nation for those in need of shelter and support.

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Comments (2)

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  • J

    JacobJun 1, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Congrats on Best of SNO! Well deserved and very well-written.

  • H

    Holden good WriterMay 31, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    Wow, what a well-written article on a standing topic in our Carlsbad community, nonetheless all of society. Georgia’s articles manage to keep getting better!