A Resonating “No” To Turning the Old Mission Hills Library Into a Homeless Facility

| July 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jim Bates

The proposal to take the old library in Mission Hills and converting it into a twenty-eight (28) unit apartment complex for the homeless is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of, and this project just brings the “swamp” closer to San Diego. 

First, let’s look at the facts. San Diego has the fourth (4th) largest “homeless” population, and probably the highest per capita, in the United States of America. This population consists of 9,220 homeless, of whom many come from the “cold weather” cities in the East and Midwestern part of our nation. 

The City and County should form a Joint Task Force to address the problems of the “homeless.”  Since over seventy per cent (70%) of the 9,220 homeless populations have mental health issues, and drug and alcohol abuse problems, these County programs must be factored in to solve these problems. 

Some “homeless” have money, through small pensions, social security, military pensions, parents, relatives and friends and thus are able to continue drug abuse and alcohol addiction, and it, will not be easy to solve these problems. And the bureaucracy doesn’t always help.  As a San Diego County Supervisor in 1975, it took well over a year, to establish my “case management” for the mentally ill in an “out patient treatment” program.

It is very difficult to get joint efforts, between the city and county; (I remember my police and sheriff proposal for a combined crime lab. It would have created the finest crime lab in the country. No one wants to give up power. In government, much is decided on “power,” how to get, how to keep it, and how to use it.

It then becomes obvious; the accommodations for the twenty eight (28) “lucky lottery winners” will have a much higher “per unit dollar cost,” than the 3,520 people in “tent cities.” And how many more of the 5,700 homeless, who have nothing, could be served. Certainly more than twenty-eight (28)!

The whole issue of  “housing” needs to be understood in the proper context. This is where the “swamp” comes into to play.

In local government many of the political contributions are received from the “land developers” and related services, especially consultants.  Check out who is doing the consulting, and work on this 28-unit project, and what political campaign contributions were made in the last few elections. One is then able to say they are doing something for the homeless.

And while the County programs are critical in this process, there has to be some measurement of success, some accountability.  In the County, and throughout the nation, there are no “outcomes.” Are you kidding me? 

But the County is making progress. For example, Supervisor Gaspar has gotten a voluntary listing and suggested protocols of Operation for Sober Living Homes. They need to be licensed and regulated. Some of the Mental Health Out Patient Treatment faculties work with these homeless as they recycle the patients over and over. There are no “outcomes,” no accountability.

And there need to be stronger programs to address the drug dealers who are operating on street corners…and their victims, who become patients at local hospitals and are recycled over and over again.

Regarding the Methadone program (I had it cancelled when, I was there), Supervisor Desmond is trying to establish accountabily there. Kudos to him!

Supervisor’s Cox and Fletcher mean well in establishing immigration shelters, but only eight percent are asylum seekers. That’s another issue that needs attention.

Anyway, good luck on accountability.  And we don’t need the Old Library converted to 28 apartments for the homeless.


Jim Bates is a former San Diego City Councilman, San Diego County Supervisor and United States Congressman

The original Mission Hills Library is facing an uncertain future.

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