Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Vote Yes on Measure A: Solve Homelessness with Homes

Author: Chris Ward
Created: 02 October, 2020
Updated: 14 August, 2022
5 min read

This is an independent opinion. IVN San Diego has invited all campaigns, including No on Measure A, to write a commentary. Have an opinion of your own? Write it! Email it to hoa@ivn.us

The global COVID-19 pandemic has made something inescapably clear: Access to a home is a matter of public safety. Without attainable, affordable housing, the health of individuals, families and the San Diego community are at risk.

The dire need for housing is why I authored and have successfully moved a $900 million local bond, Measure A, to this year’s November ballot to assist up to 7,500 low-income households and those struggling with homelessness or on the verge of homelessness.

Working San Diegans have been navigating a statewide housing crisis for over a decade and despite numerous actions the state and city have taken, we are still far behind on our housing production goals. It is not sustainable course — for us or our children.

As of now, housing is a necessity that too many have lost or are on the brink of losing. And during a pandemic, we are watching as careers and small businesses are destroyed, households are desperately trying to keep their bills paid and families across the nation are evicted from their homes with nowhere to go.

Some things are beyond our control. But providing enough housing isn’t one of them. This is a moral choice. We are not being trapped in inaction by forces beyond our control. This is a problem that we can all see every day, and it is a problem we know how to solve if we want to.

We should be doing better to respond to those at risk of homelessness through no fault of their own. COVID-19 has laid bare the need for more affordable and permanent supportive housing. At a time when physical distancing and staying at home is required to ensure public health, hundreds of San Diegans experiencing homelessness, remain unsheltered due to the high cost of living stemming from our ongoing housing deficit.

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If passed by voters, Measure A (also known as Homes for San Diegans) would specifically dedicate $900 million into new affordable housing for working families and our unsheltered neighbors. Using that investment, we can leverage billions more in state funding that we would otherwise never see. That’s tax money that San Diegans paid already being brought back to our community and put to work in solving a pressing crisis.

I agree, it’s a lot to ask. This isn’t a random number or thoughtless request; the homes created would fulfill our need for 2,800 supportive homes called for in the Community Action Plan on Homelessness to end chronic street homelessness in San Diego – a well-researched and validated study that received unanimous City Council approval – Republicans, Independent and Democrats alike. Measure A would also fund an additional 4,700 affordable homes that would serve lower income veterans, youth, seniors, families and San Diegans living with disabilities. These populations are most at-risk of losing their home and, as the Regional Task Force on the Homeless recently reported, are disproportionately represented in the homeless population.

Since the City Council placed it on the ballot in July, Measure A has received support from an array of organizations, including the San Diego County Democratic Party, Building Industry Association of San Diego, Business for Good, Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego and People Assisting the Homeless.

They’re confident in this measure because there are critical taxpayer protections written in to ensure the bond funds are used appropriately and property owners are treated fairly. These include the establishment of a Citizens' Oversight Committee, independent, external audits, annual plans and annual reports to the City Council.

Ultimately, YES on Measure A would help us realize the vision for our city we've long held: A city without chronic street homelessness. Are you ready to see that, and to say YES?

It is because of these protections that Measure A also received the endorsement of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, who have been promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government for decades.

Unifying these diverse groups is the belief that Measure A represents the next critical step to achieving a comprehensive solution to homelessness, and that we all benefit when every San Diegan has access to a safe, affordable home.

Homes end homelessness. It’s at the root of the term itself. To say that there are other ways to nibble around market solutions to fulfill the same is to accept the status quo – and every San Diegan should agree that it’s not enough and there’s no rationale to believe it will be enough. To say that it’s too expensive is to ignore both (1) common sense that building homes doesn’t come free and (2) that perpetuating homelessness is documented time again to cost far more in public health, safety, and social services than upfront, housing-first solutions. It’s the fiscally responsible solution. 

On Nov. 3, we have an opportunity to turn the page, to provide homes for those in need and boost an economy that has been crippled by COVID-19 by creating thousands of construction jobs. Or not.

A YES on Measure A can help us become a city in which no veteran or child is forced to sleep on the street or in a car. A city in which small businesses can focus on their customers and employees, instead of cleaning up their storefronts. And a city in which everyone chips in, and we all benefit.

Ultimately, YES on Measure A would help us realize the vision for our city we've long held: A city without chronic street homelessness. Are you ready to see that, and to say YES?

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