We Need a Permanent Committee on Homelessness

6 March 2018

To the Honorable Members of the San Diego City Council,

We have an ongoing emergency in San Diego for the homeless, and the problem is especially acute in the winter. Mild though our winters may be, the nights are much colder than is comfortable or humane for unsheltered men, women, and children; even those who are healthy and able bodied. Given the severity of the flu season, the cold night temperatures may even contribute to additional deaths.

Yet, the Select Committee on Homelessness is planning to meet, not “once or twice a week” as planned when the committee was formed, but only five times for the whole of 2018. It is not enough to update the City’s homeless policy and call it a day. It is not enough to put up three tents to temporarily shelter a few hundred of the many thousands of unsheltered persons living on our streets.

San Diego’s residents, housed and unhoused alike, deserve a sustained, focused effort from its council on the single greatest problem facing our city. San Diego’s residents deserve to have their chosen representatives watching the actions of non-elected staff and contractors. The lives of our most vulnerable residents, and the moral standing of us all, depend on your continued attention to this humanitarian crisis.

We call on you to revise the legislative calendar, and see that the Select Committee on Homelessness meet not five times, not even “once or twice” a month, but fully twice per month. Let these council members put their time and attention on the issue that will define the moral character of our city for years to come. There is more than enough work to do.

We have attached a detailed response to the committee’s draft work plan for 2018. We were able to discover many parts of that plan that would benefit from continued engagement from our fine, honorable, and compassionate Council Members.

Thank you,

Dr André J. Branch
President
NAACP San Diego Branch