Homeless Count Up 10% in San Diego County. ‘More Miserable Out There Than I Have Seen In Years’

The numbers have confirmed what many already suspected.

Homelessness has increased in San Diego County, and it’s especially apparent in several cities where tents and makeshift structures fill sidewalks, canyons and freeway offramps.

Results of the first homeless count in two years, released Thursday, found the number of people living in vehicles or outdoors without shelter increased 9 percent in the city of San Diego. In Oceanside, where city officials have introduced a hotel voucher program and plan to open a shelter, the number of people on the street increased 31 percent. In National City, where the San Diego Rescue Mission plans to open a shelter next year, the number of people living without shelter increased 19 percent.

In all, homelessness in San Diego County has increased 10 percent since January 2020, according to the report released by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. The actual number is likely much higher, officials said, and it could worsen as pandemic housing subsidies and protections expire.

The Feb. 24 count found 8,427 homeless people in San Diego County, with just over half in shelters. The other 4,106 were living outside of shelters, a 3 percent increase from 2020. Of that number, 713 were in vehicles.

The count usually is done annually, but this was the first since January 2020 because of the pandemicand it showed the crisis persists despite increased efforts to get more people off the street.

Since the last count, the city has purchased two extended-stay hotels and converted them to permanent housing for more than 400 formerly homeless people, Father Joe’s Villages has opened a 407-unit affordable housing project, and the city and county have worked together to increase outreach teams and other efforts.

“But even with all of that, our numbers have increased,” said Tamera Kohler, president and CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the agency that coordinates the count.

“We have more people, we have more unsheltered, we have more challenges, and it is a little bit more miserable out there than I have seen in years.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he wasn’t surprised at the increase.

“We see this with our own eyes every single day,” he said, adding that the pandemic likely contributed to the increased homeless population, which is happening throughout the state.

“The numbers could have been larger, frankly,” Gloria said.

Like Kohler, Gloria noted that the increase in homelessness happened despite many efforts to address it, but he is hopeful that new programs, more shelter beds and additional housing will improve next year’s numbers.

The city has added 271 shelter beds in the past year, a 25 percent increase, bringing the total to 1,468. An additional 450 beds are coming in the next few months, including a 125-bed shelter in the Midway area, a 40-bed women’s shelter and a 182-bed shelter for seniors and families that will be in two sites that have not yet been announced.

“Now, is it enough?” Gloria said. “No, it’s not. But I think it demonstrates a commitment with the city to acknowledge the problem.”

Of the 4,321 people counted in shelters in this year’s report, 3,036 people were in emergency shelters such as the large tents operated by the Alpha Project, 1,249 were in transitional housing and 36 in a safe-haven, temporary housing for people in rehab programs.

As usual, the city of San Diego had the largest population of homeless people in the county, with 2,307 people in shelters and 2,494 living without shelter.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

Broken Homes

San Francisco spends millions of dollars to shelter its most vulnerable residents in dilapidated hotels. With little oversight or support, the results are disastrous.

For two years, this has been Pauline Levinson’s home:

A run-down, century-old hotel in the Tenderloin, where a rodent infestation became so severe that she pitched a tent inside her room to keep the mice away.

Where residents have threatened each other with knives, crowbars and guns, sometimes drawing police to the building several times a day.

Where, since 2020, at least nine people have died of drug overdoses. One man was discovered only after a foul stench seeped from his room into the hall.

Levinson is one of thousands of poor, sick or highly vulnerable people left to languish and at times die in unstable, underfunded and understaffed residential hotel rooms overseen by a city department that reports directly to Mayor London Breed, a yearlong investigation by The San Francisco Chronicle found.

Pauline Levinson sheds tears while talking about life at the Jefferson Hotel on Eddy Street in the Tenderloin.

At the Jefferson Hotel, Pauline Levinson has coped with rodents, violence and neighbors dying of overdoses. Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

In a complex arrangement, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, or HSH, pays nonprofit groups to provide rooms and aid to formerly homeless people in about 70 single-room-occupancy hotels, known as SROs, which the nonprofits generally lease from private landlords. The buildings are the cornerstone of a $160 million program called permanent supportive housing, which is supposed to help people rebuild their lives after time on the streets.

But because San Francisco leaders have for years neglected the hotels and failed to meaningfully regulate the nonprofits that operate them, many of the buildings — which house roughly 6,000 people — have descended into a pattern of chaos, crime and death, the investigation found. Critically, the homelessness crisis in San Francisco has worsened.

To understand why more and more people are homeless despite a broad and expensive push to house them, Chronicle reporters obtained tens of thousands of pages of inspection records, incident reports, city contracts, police records and internal city emails through the California Public Records Act. They spent months interviewing more than 150 supportive housing tenants and employees — many of them in buildings operated by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, the city’s biggest nonprofit SRO operator — and observing conditions in 16 hotels.

Among the findings:

• HSH says its goal is to provide some residents with enough stability to enter more independent housing. But of the 515 tenants tracked by the government after they left permanent supportive housing in 2020, a quarter died while in the program — exiting by passing away, city data shows. An additional  21% returned to homelessness, and 27% left for an “unknown destination.” Only about a quarter found stable homes, mostly by moving in with friends or family or into another taxpayer-subsidized building.

• At least 166 people fatally overdosed in city-funded hotels in 2020 and 2021 — 14% of all confirmed overdose deaths in San Francisco, though the buildings housed less than 1% of the city’s population. The Chronicle compiled its own database of fatal overdoses, cross-referencing records from the medical examiner’s office with supportive housing SRO addresses, because HSH said it did not comprehensively track overdoses in its buildings.

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

Sacramento Currently Spending $44 Million on Growing Homeless

The City of Sacramento is spending more than $44 million to provide eight homeless shelters and camping options, most not yet built or ready, and three Project Homekey motel conversions. According to city officials, “most of that comes from state and federal grants that are not certain year to year.”

This homeless spending comes on the heels of city residents learning that waste collection services are going up drastically: 4.0% increase for recycling, 4.50% increase for garbage, 20.50% increase lawn and garden, and 7.0% increase for street sweeping.

Senate Bill 1383, authored by then-Sen. Ricardo Lara and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016,  requires organic waste (food waste) be recycled to reduce methane, “climate pollutants” and greenhouse gas emissions in landfills.

Sacramento County has more than 11,000 homeless living on the streets and in the parks, and all shelter beds and spaces are full on any given night.

The Mayor and City Council now calls Sacramento’s drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless vagrant population the “unhoused,” “people experiencing homelessness,” “guests,” and “our unhoused neighbors,” as if these really are our neighbors who were just one paycheck away from living on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite the uncertainty of ongoing funding, the City is planning on these various shelters into 2023. “We think for 2023 we have pulled together the funds to cover the shelter piece, from both the State Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants and by redirecting some funds within the Department of Community Response budget.

While the city’s total siting plan involves 20 potential sites, City staff said they are currently focusing efforts on eight sites, “that have shown the most potential for development and activation. Some of these sites have been added to the plan in recent months.”

This is the status of the eight proposed and existing homeless sites:

  • Joshua’s House is a private hospice facility not yet built on a city-owned lot in North Sacramento. The developer recently applied for a permit and the site could be up and running late this year.
  • Miller Park Safe Ground is a 60-tent low barrier shelter has been opened since Feb. 8. It has already served approximately 140 people, 25 of whom have moved on into positive settings.
  • Auburn Boulevard Respite Center is sited at the former Science Center Museum. It is in use now as administrative space for Hope Cooperative and Department of Community Response outreach teams. It is ready to be used as a respite center for adverse weather conditions.
  • North 5th Street is an existing 104-bed shelter which, under the siting plan, has been expanded to 145 beds and will add another 18 in July for a total of 163.
  • Downtown Service Hub is an unnamed location that is the subject of ongoing negotiations to purchase the building and use it as a central hub for homeless and the service providers who work with them.
  • Colfax Yard is a vacant city-owned vacant lot not yet ready for official use being used now as an unsanctioned parking spot by homeless. The State Water Board ordered an environmental clean up  for longer-term, sanctioned safe parking. The homeless there now will need to vacate.
  • Roseville Road RT Station is currently used unofficially by homeless parking vehicles. The city is working on a three-way agreement among the City, RT and Cal Trans. When completed, that agreement will allow between 50 and 70 vehicles to safely park there.
  • The 102-acre Job Corp site was recently purchased as federal surplus land, not accessible yet. In the short term, the site requires new road access and other improvements before part of it could serve as a safe parking site.

Currently available shelter for homeless totals 164 spots according to this list – 104 actual beds, and 60 tents in a public park.

Sacramento has more than the 11,222 homeless people accounted for Sacramento in 2019-2020. Where are they sleeping? We don’t know how many are sleeping in their cars in designated parking lots, and other default parking locations.

Again not yet ready or opened are three Project Homekey motel conversions, La Mancha, Vista Nueva, and Central Sacramento, the City is working on with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency on, expected to provide more than 300 rooms to be used mostly as supportive and transitional housing.

Last month the Globe reported that Sacramento city manager Howard Chan warned the City Council that future funding for the city’s existing homeless shelters was uncertain, even as the City Council was pushing to open more large homeless sites to address Sacramento’s growing homelessness crisis.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Republicans Act On Homelessness Where Democrats Have Failed

The progressive experiment is failing in California. Take a walk around any of the cities controlled by Democrats here and you’ll see dozens of homeless encampments, feces, and heroin needles littering sidewalks and streets.

Despite containing only 12% of the nation’s population, California is home to a whopping 28% of its homeless, and an astronomical 47% of its unsheltered homeless. Since 2018, the state has thrown $17 billion at homelessness and the problem has only continued to grow.

Under more than a decade of complete Democratic control of state government, California’s approach on this issue has been disjointed and scattershot.

Democratic ideas to address homelessness have failed – evidence of that failure is visible to anyone who witnesses the suffering that has taken over our streets. In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s own words, Democrats have been “as dumb as they want to be” when it comes to homelessness.

Still, their “plan” to address homelessness is to simply carry on the same ineffective programs but spend more money. If we continue in their direction, we can only expect to see continued worsening results.

It is time to look at new ideas instead of doubling down on failed ones.

That’s why Legislative Republicans have introduced a comprehensive package of more than a dozen bills to ACT on homelessness, now. These bills prioritize accountability, compassion and treatment. Specifically, they demand accountability from our leaders, focus resources on housing and shelter accessibility, mental health and substance abuse assistance, and provide support for people at risk of becoming homeless.

Our first set of bills will bring accountability to homelessness programs and ensure funding gets to programs that actually keep people off the street and deliver the help they need. Californians cannot afford to continue providing blank checks with no results. Our proposals would require the governor to make an annual report to the Legislature on his homelessness efforts and begin a long-overdue audit of state homelessness spending and outcomes.

California has spent billions on housing efforts for the homeless population – yet those programs have failed. That’s why Legislative Republicans have proposed measures to support programs that help keep people off the streets and help those in the cycle of homelessness grow beyond the shelter walls. The Republican plan will streamline shelter construction, protect faith-based organizations that provide shelter and fund local government efforts to increase shelter capacity.

Ignoring mental health and substance use disorders within the homeless population is the furthest thing from compassionate. Californians in every community of this state see streets littered with needles and walk past those who struggle to grasp reality. Legislative Republicans want to bring real compassion to the homelessness crisis and ensure those who need help will receive it. Among our proposals are bills to provide addiction services for the homeless using opioid settlement funds, provide prompt treatment to people having a mental health crisis and ensure those with severe mental illness are placed into treatment instead of left on our streets.

While every homeless person comes to homelessness in their own way, we know certain groups – former foster youth, veterans, the mentally ill, the addicted, domestic violence victims, and the recently incarcerated – are at far greater risk than the general population. However, California’s prevention programs, to the degree they exist, show little evidence of success or accountability.

Republicans plan to help these populations break the cycle of homelessness, overcome adversity, and find and keep employment within the state. Republican proposals will create incentive and training programs to provide at-risk youth with employment opportunities and establish reentry programs for jail inmates at risk of becoming homeless upon their release.

Homelessness is all around us, and getting worse despite the continued empty promises from Capitol Democrats. Their ‘money solves everything’ approach is failing spectacularly, but they refuse to see it.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Newsom Mental Health Plan Needs Full Airing

Beginning in the 19th century and continuing well into the 20th, California maintained an extensive network of state mental hospitals to which people deemed to be dangers to themselves or others were committed, often for decades.

In the mid-20th century, however, the concept of involuntary commitments came under fire with critics saying that the hospitals were more like prisons than treatment centers, with their patients denied basic civil rights.

The upshot was legislation, signed by Ronald Reagan shortly after he became governor in 1967, with a declared goal to “end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders.”

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, named for Republican Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and Democratic Senators Nick Petris and Alan Short, set forth an elaborate process that would have to be followed for involuntary commitments, limiting them to the profoundly disabled.

Companion legislation was aimed at replacing the hospitals with community-based mental health programs. The package drew support from those who wanted to reduce the hefty costs of the hospitals, such as Reagan, and advocates for the rights of the mentally ill.

It never worked out as planned because successor governors and legislators didn’t provide enough financial support for local mental health services and the process for commitment essentially allowed the mentally ill to refuse treatment.

One by one, the state hospitals were closed, some converted to other uses, such as California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, and others razed.

In some measure — we’ll never know how much — what followed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act contributed to California’s explosion of homelessness, because many of those living on the streets of the state’s cities are severely mentally ill.

The debate over the situation has raged for years, pitting those who believe that forcing the mentally ill into treatment is a regrettable necessity against those who contend that involuntary commitments violate civil rights.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

CA’s Governor Wants Mental Health Courts For Homeless People

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s governor unveiled a plan Thursday to create mental health courts in every county, allowing treatment for more homeless people with severe mental health and addiction disorders but also compelling some of them into care, a move that many advocates of homeless people oppose as a violation of civil rights.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference that he has no intention of rounding people up and locking them away. Instead, he said his plan would offer a way for people to get court-ordered psychiatric treatment, medication and housing, preferably before they are arrested.

Under the plan, which requires approval by the Legislature, all counties would have to set up a mental health branch in civil court and provide comprehensive and community-based treatment to those suffering from debilitating psychosis. People need not be homeless to be evaluated by a court.

But if approved, they would be obligated to accept the care or risk criminal charges, if those are pending, and if not, they would be subject to being held in psychiatric programs involuntarily or lengthier conservatorships in which the court appoints a person to make health decisions for someone who cannot.

“There’s no compassion stepping over people in the streets and sidewalks,” Newsom told reporters at a briefing at a mental health treatment facility in San Jose. “We could hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, talk about the way the world should be, or we could take some damn responsibility to implement our ideas and that’s what we’re doing differently here.”

Newsom, a Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, has made homelessness and housing a focus of his administration. Last year, the Legislature approved $12 billion for new housing and treatment beds for the homeless and this year Newsom has proposed an additional $2 billion, primarily to shelter people suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia and other behavioral health disorders.

It was not immediately clear how much the program might cost, although Newsom proposed in his budget this year more money for mental health services. He has called distressing behavior on the streets heartbreaking and maddening and says residents are right to complain that government is not doing enough.

People with addiction issues or mental health disorders often pinball among various public agencies, namely hospitals, court and jail. There is no one place that manages the person’s health, offering steady and safe housing combined with resource intensive care and California, like the rest of the country, suffers from a shortage of treatment beds.

Cities and states across the country are grappling with growing homelessness, as well as mental health crises. Nearly a quarter of California’s estimated 161,000 unhoused residents have a severe mental illness, according to a 2020 count of homeless people required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nationally, the figure was just over 20% of an estimated 580,000 unhoused residents.

Newsom’s plan could apply to an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 people, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

California Assemblywoman Shocked At Homeless Living On City Streets

Asks ‘Can we explain this? Who is responsible? Solutions please’

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D – Fullerton) posted a photo on Twitter Tuesday of a couple of homeless tents on a city sidewalk, and asks why. “Can we explain this? Who is responsible? Solutions please,” she Tweeted.

The responses were epic, predictable, snarky, defensive, and there were the trolls. But several questioned how the Assemblywoman could be so tone deaf to what’s been going on all around her, in Sacramento and in her home district.

This guy let her have it: “Isn’t it literally your job to understand the situation and do your best to solve it?”

A political consultant replied: “Democrats have been in the supermajority in the CA legislature for a decade, with a Dem Gov… and they run almost every major city. It’s pretty lame for you to ask who is responsible.”

Another reply said: “Because of Democrat regulations and policies. Move to any other state and it wouldn’t cost as much to build. Democrats didn’t say no to the first tent is the problem. Now it’s in every neighborhood and they’re not all nice people.”

And another… “Every single housing law passed in CA for a generation made housing more expensive; restrictive zoning, CEQA, Title 24, ADA, labor requirements, waste water management, VMT, and many others…all seemingly righteous, but all straws on the camel’s back. Well, the camel fell over.”

One reply offered the heart of the government-created issue: “This photo is explained by the Martin v. Boise decision and Prop 47. Both must be corrected to seriously address homelessness.”

This response was mind-blowing: “Need a living wage for our people and to get investors out of housing.”

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

There’s A New Coalition In S.F. Trying To Reduce Homelessness. Can It Work?

A coalition of more than 30 nonprofit organizations and businesses will launch an effort Wednesday to create housing and shelter projects in San Francisco stocked with drug rehab and other services to help homeless people get off the streets.

The alliance joins a growing number of efforts launched in recent years to reduce homelessness, and comes as the city faces dueling housing and addiction crises and growing frustration over what to do about them.

The coalition, called Urban Vision Alliance, is beginning its push by providing financing and planning support to the Salvation Army as it adds 1,500 beds over the next several years where unhoused people can get stabilized before being routed into permanent housing.

The Salvation Army’s expansion will emphasize transitional housing, particularly for those struggling with substance abuse, so they are clean and sober and employed before moving into homes of their own. This model is geared more toward abstinence from all drugs and medication rather than the more common harm-reduction model used in San Francisco, which aims to quickly place people in permanent supportive housing, where counseling services are on site and residents can undergo drug treatment at their own pace.

This “housing first” approach has long been the accepted standard around the Bay Area.

But with the housing crunch worsening in recent years, there’s been more openness to cheaper transitional housing, which means giving unhoused people temporary places to live while they work on their problems. There’s also been discussion in San Francisco of adding more abstinence-based rehab approaches, despite studies showing they have a greater failure rate than harm reduction, with the idea that all techniques should be available as the city confronts a deadly opioid crisis.

By connecting private, public and nonprofit organizations that might not otherwise team up, the people behind the Urban Vision Alliance coalition think they can generate new strategies to combat all types of homelessness and raise the money to finance a wide range of programs.

“We think we need all approaches including emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, affordable housing,” said the organization’s CEO Gabriel Baldinucci. “We also think we need different forms of treatment that range from harm reduction for some to abstinence for others. It’s based on the individual needs of a person.

“This all about building a diverse coalition of organizations that can expand different housing types and different program types.”

Homelessness, Crime Damage Newsom In Poll

The governor’s approval rating falls as a majority of voters say state is heading in the wrong direction.

SACRAMENTO — Less than five months after Californians overwhelmingly rejected a recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom, voters are growing more dissatisfied with the governor, and a solid majority believe the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Concerns about rising crime and California’s seemingly intractable homelessness crisis emerged as the top political undercurrents driving voter dissatisfaction, with most of those surveyed giving Newsom poor marks on how he has handled those issues. Californians praised Newsom’s ability to guide the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, but two-thirds believe the crisis is subsiding, diluting its effect on his overall job approval ratings, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

“You see a lot of changing going on in the public’s mind. I think they’re focusing less on COVID, more on the other long-standing issues that the state has been facing,” DiCamillo said. “The state has some major issues, and he’s the governor. The buck stops there.”

Newsom’s prospects for reelection in 2022 still appear strong, however, with less than four months to go before the June primary.

Thus far, Newsom’s top challenger is Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle, a seasoned Northern California conservative lacking a statewide political profile. During his nine years in the Legislature, Dahle has never had to raise the tens of millions of dollars necessary to run for governor in a state as vast as California. Newsom already has raked in $25 million for his reelection effort. When announcing his candidacy, Dahle likened the task to “David versus Goliath.”

After the failed Sept. 14 recall election, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he would consider running for governor in 2022 and on Monday said he will be announcing his decision soon. The moderate Republican received little support when he ran as a replacement candidate in the recall election.

According to the poll, 48% of registered voters surveyed approved of Newsom’s job as governor, while 47% disapproved — a difference within the survey’s margin of error. That’s down from the 64% approval rating California voters gave Newsom in September 2020 amid the first wave of the pandemic.

More than half of registered voters polled, 54%, believe California is on the wrong track, compared with 36% who believe the state is on the right path, with the remainder expressing no opinion. Voters were evenly split just last May.

While disapproval of Newsom has always been strong among conservatives, the poll found criticism rising slightly — 7 percentage points — among Democrats compared with six months ago, although Democrats still overwhelmingly give Newsom high marks.

Among Californians registered as “no party preference” or with other political parties, 41% approved of Newsom’s job as governor and 51% disapproved.

Majorities of Latino, Black and Asian American/Pacific Islander registered voters approved of Newsom’s job as governor, while a majority of white voters disapproved.

Since September, voter dissatisfaction has risen slightly among white, Latino and Asian American/Pacific Islander voters. Newsom gained support among Black voters during that time.

A spokesman for Newsom’s reelection campaign said the governor has “decisively guided California through historic and unprecedented crises” of the pandemic while taking action to address California’s most entrenched and challenging problems.

“His actions saved lives and provided real help to families as they faced uncertainty,” said spokesman Nathan Click. “He remains 100% focused on providing solutions to California’s most vexing challenges — from the pandemic and climate change to homelessness and public safety.”

Though the Berkeley poll found strong voter support for Newsom’s actions addressing the pandemic and climate change, the biggest danger sign for Newsom is growing voter anger over crime and homelessness, DiCamillo said.

Two out of three registered voters said Newsom is doing a poor or very poor job addressing homelessness, an increase of 12 percentage points from 2020, according to the survey.

On crime and public safety, 51% of voters surveyed said the governor was doing a poor job, up 16 percentage points from 2020.

“There’s a long history of state residents being concerned about crime. It hasn’t been that prominent in recent years, but now appears to be coming back,” DiCamillo said. “That issue has become much more prominent, and Newsom is much more vulnerable.”

Rising crime promises to be a major issue for Republicans in the 2022 election, especially in the races for governor and California attorney general.

Conservatives blame California’s ongoing struggles with crime on policies embraced by Newsom and the Democratic leadership at the state Capitol for decades.

That includes Democratic support for Proposition 47, the 2014 voter-approved ballot measure that reclassified some felony drug and theft offenses as misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, a parole overhaul measure ratified in 2016. This year, the Newsom administration expanded good-behavior credits permitted under Proposition 57, allowing an additional 76,000 prisoners to qualify for early release.

The Berkeley poll found that most voters want to see changes to Proposition 47.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

The People Behind California’s Plan To End Chronic Homelessness

Getting off the streets and into housing is often touted as a statistical success.

But reality is much more complicated.

Jackie Botts recently took CalMatters readers on an intimate tour of the winding road Fernando Maya, a formerly homeless veteran, traveled from the streets of Los Angeles to a Project Roomkey hotel room to his own studio apartment in subsidized housing.

His story highlights the myriad personal and systemic factors that make it difficult for people to find housing and stay housed – including the collision with a car while bicycling and head injury that hampered Maya’s efforts to rebuild his life.

In the latest episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” CalMatters’ Manuela Tobias and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon interviewed Jackie and Maya about his story and her reporting process.

So where is Maya now, and what lays in store for him next?

“Well, I’ve got a door. I’ve got a door with a key. I have seven days a week for cop shows,” he joked. 

On being inside, he reflected, “This is always a positive for me, every day. Because it is secure. I have the walls to secure me from the elements, I don’t have crashes blowing by me.”

Jackie recounted first meeting Maya two years ago, while reporting on the state’s food aid program.

“You were excited to talk to a journalist and I remember you saying, like, ‘I can be your eyes and your ears on the street,’” she said. “It just seemed like you had a story worth telling and so we kept in touch and I would just like, check in and ask you little questions.”

The story gained urgency as the state announced a $12 billion appropriation last summer to address the California homeless crisis, a chunk of which recently became available to expand mental health housing and treatment.

But a severe worker shortage in the California homeless services field threatens the state’s ability to massively expand services. Many homeless service workers — who make low wages for high-stress jobs — are burned out.

Maya talked about the importance of case workers to him and other people experiencing homelessness. “Some of us need help,” he said. “Some of us don’t know we need help.”  

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters