A “tableau of squalor and suffering” isn’t what comes to mind when people think of San Diego, a town with the motto “America’s finest city” and a reputation for its craft-beer culture and miles of beautiful beaches. But that’s how Dan McSwain, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, described the city’s homelessness crisis in a piece last year, the first in a series pillorying city leaders for not doing more to address the issue.
Since then the situation has, if anything, worsened.
A recent count found a dramatic 104% increase in “tents and hand-built structures” located downtown, for a total of 418, compared to 2016. Driving through East Village, a gentrifying neighborhood on the edge of downtown, it’s tough to find a street that doesn’t have a tarp or tent – or dozens. People with neither tent nor tarp fashion makeshift shelters out of shopping carts, storage bins and blankets.