Hotline: (619) 494-2226

Homelessness in the 2020 election

This post will go over various policies on the November 2020 election ballot and discuss their impacts on people experiencing homelessness. It will also cover various candidates and their positions on the homelessness crisis.

*** Mustard Seed Project is a nonpartisan organization that unequivocally supports our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This workshop is for educational purposes and is not meant to endorse any politician. party, or policy. Make your own judgments and do your own research before voting.

A. The Problem

  • Over 1,400,000 people stayed in a shelter in a single year, this does not include domestic violence shelters. (2017)

  • 33% of people experiencing homelessness are families with children.

  • 553,000 (under-counted) slept in a shelter, transitional housing, or a public place in a single night. (HUD 2018)

  • From 1990-2016 the average cost of rent rose 20% faster than overall inflation. The average home price rose 41%.

  • As a result of the lack of affordable housing for extremely low-income (ELI) renters, only 37 units were available for every 100 in need.

  • 90% of new apartment construction from 2017-2018 were luxury units.

  • 9 million ELI renters spend more than half of their income on housing and utilities.

B. Systemic Contributing Factors (but by no means all)

  • Systemic Racial Injustice: Racial minorities experience homelessness at disproportionate rates. Black people make up 13% of the US population, 21% of the poverty population, and 40% of the homeless population.

  • Stigma: Stigmas against individuals experiencing homelessness prevent them from accessing crucial resources and opportunities.

  • High Barrier Social Services: While resources to support individuals experiencing homelessness exist, these resources are often near impossible to access (transportation, language, documents/identification, legal status, etc.)

  • Lack of Affordable Housing: A lack of physical housing units, rising rent, income inequality, and numerous other factors play into this.

  • Low Wages: The current minimum wage is not a living wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25

  • Mental/Physical Healthcare: Oftentimes a lack of mental or physical healthcare is the reason one might be experiencing homelessness. It can also be one of the biggest barriers to escaping homelessness.

C. Propositions and Measure in San Diego County

City of San Diego – Measure A

General Obligation Bonds for Affordable Housing

Authorizes the city to issue up to $900 million in bonds with bond revenue going to fund low-income, substance abuse, and mental health service housing requiring an estimated property tax levy of between $3 and $21 per $100,000 in assessed value.

YES This local investment not only allows us to address homelessness but also provides affordable homes so hard-working San Diego families can afford to stay in our city. It will also generate the local resources necessary to receive millions in federal and state matching funds that we currently leave on the table.

NO San Diego already has the highest property tax rate in the county and too many working families are struggling with the high cost-of-living already. In the midst of a pandemic, San Diegans can’t afford a massive property tax increase.

City of Imperial Beach – Measure I

Imperial Beach Emergency Response

Shall the ordinance to maintain fire protection, paramedics, 911 emergency response, prevention programs, neighborhood/community crime prevention; address homelessness; improve natural disaster/medical/emergency response; maintain streets; maintain lifeguard center, parks, community center, youth/after-school/senior programs; other general services, by establishing a 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $1,300,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring independent audits, public disclosure of spending, all funds for Imperial Beach, be adopted. 

YES Vote YES on “I” to address public safety, homelessness and traffic congestion challenges to keep Imperial Beach a quality community to live, work and raise a family through the uncertain times ahead. We don’t know how long the effects of this pandemic will last – vote YES on “I” to keep Imperial Beach self-reliant for any health emergency or catastrophic disaster. Vote YES on “I” to make sure Imperial Beach’s local Sheriff and fire protection services are prepared for any emergency.

NO A “No” vote is a vote to decline this tax.

Valley Center Protection District – Measure AA

To maintain/improve local fire protection/emergency medical services and wildfire/natural disaster preparedness/response; recruit/retain firefighters/paramedics; build a fire station to improve response times; replace aging equipment; shall Valley Center Fire Protection District’s measure levying 6¢ per square foot of improved residential property, $49 per unimproved parcel, with different rates for other property types, providing $820,000 annually for local use, until ended by voters; with senior exemptions and independent oversight, be adopted. 

YES The risks are high and growing: Experts tell us that the brain starts deteriorating 4-6 minutes after a person stops breathing. However, the average 911 response time in Valley Center is 10 minutes. Some firefighting and lifesaving emergency medical equipment is so old it no longer meets current safety standards. VCFPD can only afford to offer low wages and benefits, so firefighters must take on multiple jobs to get by – or worse, they train here and leave for better jobs elsewhere.

NO Measure AA is another tax increase that will make owning a home in Valley Center more expensive, taxing the residents of Valley Center $820,000 PER YEAR WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

California – Prop 21 (statewide)

Local Rent Control Initiative

YES Supports this ballot initiative to allow the local government to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.

SUPPORTERS Senator Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Dolores Huerta, AFSCME CA, Democratic Party

NO Opposed this ballot initiative, thereby continuing to prohibit rent control on housing that was first occupied after February 1, 1995, and housing units with distinct titles, such as single-family homes.

OPPOSITION Gov. Newson, GOP, AMVETS, CA Conference of Carpenters, CA District of Iron Workers

D. Candidates for Public Office

SD County Board of Supervisors – District No. 1

(Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, Barrio Logan, Chollas View, Grant Hill, La Playa, Lincoln Park, Logan Heights, Memorial, Mount Hope, Mountain View, Nestor, Otay, Palm City, Point Loma, San Ysidro, Shelltown, Sherman Heights, Southcrest, Stockton, Sunset Cliffs, part of Downtown San Diego, Bonita, Sunnyside, Lincoln Acres, and East Otay Mesa)

BEN HUESO *Has not made any recent statements on homelessness. Worked on helping small businesses, protecting victims of domestic violence, prohibiting the sale of synthetic drugs, securing clean and reliable water resources, and stimulating the economy.

NORA VARGAS We have to strengthen our collaborative work and streamline access to resources and provide wraparound services. It is important that we create individual plans for our homeless population and remove the barriers that made someone become homeless in the first place. Additionally, we need to take the lead in addressing the housing shortage and skyrocketing rental prices. We need to preserve, protect, and produce affordable housing stock for young people, working families, veterans, and seniors on fixed incomes.

SD County Board of Supervisors – District No. 2

(El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Poway, Santee, Agua Caliente, Allied Gardens, Alpine, Barrett, Blossom Valley, Bostonia, Boulevard, Campo, Canebrake, Casa de Oro, College Area, Crest, Cuyamaca, Dehesa, Del Cerro, Descanso, Dulzura, Eucalyptus Hills, Fernbrook, Flinn Springs, Granite Hills, Grantville, Guatay, Harbison Canyon, Jacumba, Jamul, Johnstown, Julian, Lake Morena, Lakeside, Mount Helix, Pine Hills, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Rolando, San Carlos, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Spring Valley, Tecate, Tierra del Sol, Vallecitos, Wynola, Barona, Campo, Cosmit, Ewiiaapaayp, Inaja, Jamul, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Sycuan, and Viejas)

JOEL ANDERSON “One of my top priorities is to bring more mental health and human services resources to help get mentally ill and homeless individuals the care they need to get off the streets. It is not fair to those who are suffering on the streets, law enforcement, or the communities where they reside, to continue to ignore the physically and mentally ill people who need shelter and treatment.” 

STEVE VAUS “Homelessness doesn’t respect city boundaries and we need to treat it that way. It’s now a problem and it’s a longer-term problem. Let’s get them into those hotel rooms, but we need to solve the longer-term problem of transitional housing and then permanent housing, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

SD County Board of Supervisors – District No. 3

(Sorrento Valley, Torrey Pines Mesa, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Escondido, San Pasqual Valley, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Scripps Ranch, Tierrasanta, Sabre Springs, Mira Mesa, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar)

KRISTIN GASPAR Launched The Other Side Academy here in San Diego. The Other Side transforms the lives of the formerly incarcerated, those suffering from addiction, and those with mental health issues by bucking conventional wisdom and using accountability and programs that emphasize self-sufficiency rather than government-reliance. Residents live in a drug-free home and learn to develop their strengths by helping each other. With a focus on changing negative behaviors through peer interactions, they learn social norms, build social skills, and become self-sufficient.

TERRA LAWSON-REMER Reduce homelessness by increasing ‘housing first’ investments, expanding shelter capacity, and decriminalizing homelessness. “I will create a 911-style 24-hour response team composed of social service providers to be the first responders on the scene when there is a call about a homeless or mentally ill individual, so people in crisis can get immediate access to the social services they need instead of being locked-up in jail. And I will increase the county’s investment in mental health services and shelters with wraparound services, so treatment is available for our homeless in need.

CA State Assembly Member – 75th District

(Bonall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Lake San Marcos, Rainbow, San Marcos, Valley Center, Temecula)

KAREN SCHWARTZ (D) “We also need to create affordable housing closer to employment areas, with decreased development in outlying unincorporated (and fire prone) areas. The development that should be taking place in our suburbs should be locating large employers to the outlying areas where their workers currently live. Homelessness is a tragic social and health crisis that needs to be solved… And our healthcare system is in crisis.”

MARIE WALDRON (R) incumbent “We must reduce the high costs to develop housing, including development and impact fees and the regulatory loopholes that add costs to the final price of a home. Rent control will not solve the housing crisis. I do not support mandates like rent control on private property in order to artificially keep rents low.The state’s solutions have been to house homeless without mandating they go into treatment. This simply will not work.”

CA State Assembly Member – 76th District

(Camp Pendleton North/South, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista)

TASHA BOERNER HORVATH (D) incumbent Allocated $1 million towards homelessness prevention with $250,000 each to the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista, and Oceanside for that purpose in partnership with the CRC. (2019-20 State Budget)

MELANIE BURKHOLDER (R) On housing first, “While this sounds charitable, the state does not require the homeless to accept mandatory mental health, sobriety, or job counseling and truly fails to get fully beneath the underlying issues which are the root causes of the plight of the tens of thousands of homeless throughout the state, and the 7,300 right here in San Diego County.”

CA State Assembly Member – 77th District

(Fairbanks Ranch, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego 29.7%)

BRIAN MAIENSCHEIN (D) incumbent “There are different ways to address homelessness, including mental health treatment, support groups for individuals and their families, medication adherence programs and free meals… If we are able to find safe and secure housing for at-risk individuals, then services like mental health treatment can have a greater impact… By increasing the availability of supportive and transitional housing, we can help people get back on their feet. California can make progress on homelessness by empowering local governments with additional resources, providing flexibility and extending programs to those who are disabled or battling mental illness.” *** Does not support rent control.

JUNE YANG CUTTER (R) Campaign based on the idea of “giving the middle class a voice again”. Has not made specific statements or policies regarding homelessness.

CA State Assembly Member – 78th District

(Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, Bay Park, Burlingame, College Area West, Clairemont, Downtown, East Village, Hillcrest, Kensington, La Jolla, Little Italy, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, Morena, North Park, Normal Heights, Ocean Beach, Old Town, Pacific Beach, Point Loma)

SARAH DAVIS (D) “I support reallocating resources from law enforcement agencies to social service agencies for responsibilities such as assisting with homeless Californians and mental health needs. I support statewide standardization of use of force guidelines and demilitarization of law enforcement agencies. Ending institutionalized racism in all areas of public life is a top priority of mine, including but not limited to law enforcement, health care, education and environmental policy.”

CHRISTOPHER WARD (D) “We must ensure that our neighbors are lifted out of homelessness and provided with supportive housing with wrap-around services to get them back on their feet… As Chair of the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless I have engaged to update systems of care, identify and secure funding streams, and increase housing supply for our most vulnerable San Diegans. I led the creation of the City of San Diego’s first comprehensive Community Action Plan on Homelessness to make meaningful progress and hold our city officials accountable.

CA State Assembly Member – 79th District

(Bonita, Chula Vista 36.4%, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City 27.1%, San Diego 19.9%)

SHIRLEY WEBER (D) incumbent “Those working whose wages are within the range of the middle class have difficulty finding housing that does not consume over the majority of their income. Southern California residents pay over half of their income in rent and some as high as 60%. This makes housing, which is a necessity, a luxury for many and thus the cycle of homelessness begins… one of the ways to address the homeless problem is to prevent it in the first place… we must work to prevent evictions. Working to keep people in their homes provides a necessary safety net and makes rebounding easier.”

JOHN MOORE (R) “In this case the problem created by excess regulation leads to unaffordable housing… Utility costs, including energy in the form gasoline, are a component of housing affordability that is often overlooked… The homeless fall into three categories: Recently dispossessed women with children, veterans and the chemically addicted, and hard core homeless who have completely adapted to outdoor life.”

CA State Assembly Member – 80th District

(Chula Vista 63.6%, National City 72.9%, San Diego 19.9%)

LORENA GONZALEZ (D) incumbent “Housing costs have risen astronomically during this housing crunch, but household incomes have not kept pace… We really need to get serious about confronting all of the factors that lead to the expansion of homelessness that is seen all over California and then to also move people into housing to break the cycle. I believe in the Housing First model that has shown promising signs in places like Colorado, Boston and Utah.”

JOHN VOGEL (R) “The priority must be focused on reducing the cost of new housing construction… the state needs to return to a promotion of the nuclear family as the bulwark against systemic poverty and homelessness. The surest way to fend off poverty and homelessness is to raise children in families with their biological parents.”

U.S. Representative – 50th District

(Santee, Lakeside, Poway, Ramona, La Mesa, Alpine, Winter Gardens, Borrego Springs, Spring Valley)

AMMAR CAMPA-NAJJAR (D) “One simple is to update HUD’s funding formula so San Diego receives the 4th largest allotment of HUD funding rather than 20th, commensurate with our needs as the 4th largest homeless population in the nation. Collaborating with nonprofits and private investors through Opportunity Zones and HUD Grant Programs. Government cannot fix this problem alone, we must band together as a community to care for the least of these, provide emergency housing to the victims of domestic abuse, and help make people whole again.”

DARRELL ISSA (R) Points towards using federal funds to support vocational training, but also suggested looking to faith-based organizations for assistance.

U.S. Representative – 51st District

(Imperial County, South SD County, the border, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, El Centro) 

JUAN VARGAS (D) incumbent “He also sponsored a graffiti and home rehabilitation program, known as Operation Restore, which employed homeless individuals in an effort to improve and revitalize blighted homes and neighborhoods in San Diego’s urban core.”

JUAN HIDALGO (R) *Has not made specific statements regarding homelessness. Says he will work to address the unemployment rate and border security (supports border wall). 

U.S. Representative – 52nd District

(La Jolla, Clairemont, Bird Rock, Downtown SD, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, UTC, Bay Park, Bay Ho, Carmel Valley, Tierrasanta, Scripps Ranch, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Sorrento Valley, Coronado, Little Italy, Pancho Penasquito, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, 4S Ranch, Black Mountain Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, San Pasqual Valley)

SCOTT PETERS (D) – Advocating to Update the HUD Funding Formula – Supporting San Diego’s Housing Market – Expanding Access to Benefits and CARE

JIM DEBELLO (R) *Has not made any statements regarding homelessness. – Key policy areas are; “draining the swamp”, growing the military, and stricter immigration laws.

U.S. Representative – 53rd District

(Allied Gardens, Balboa Park, Bankers Hill/Park West, Birdland, Bonita, Casa de Oro – Mt. Helix, Chula Vista, College, Del Cerro, Eastlake, El Cajon, Golden Hill, Grantville, Hillcrest, Jamacha Lomita, Kensington, La Mesa, La Presa, Lake Murray, Lemon Grove, Linda Vista, Midtown, Mission Hills, Mission Valley, Normal Heights, North Park, Old Town, Otay Mesa, Rancho Del Rey, Redwood Village, Rolando, San Carlos, Serra Mesa, Skyline, South Park, Spring Valley, Talmadge, University Heights)

GEORGETTE GÓMEZ (D) Georgette Gómez believes that it’s outrageous that half a million Americans are sleeping on the streets every night. As City Council President, Georgette has made affordable housing one of her key priorities. In Congress, Georgette will be a firm advocate for increased public housing assistance, federal grants for affordable housing projects and expanding funding for the Section 8 housing program. SARA JACOBS (R) “Push for HUD to modernize their funding formula, support federal programs that focus on preventing homelessness (legal counsel and providing emergency assistance in eviction courts), support and co-sponsor the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which leverages federal funding to build new housing units for low- and middle-income families, will also co-sponsor the Rent Relief Act – which would help individuals who live in rental housing and pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Wealth derived from housing is a major contributor to the racial wealth gap – so I support no or low cost loans to families and individuals who live in formerly red-lined communities.”

President and Vice President of the United States of America

JOE BIDEN (D) “Invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with reasonable commute to their jobs.” Mentions redling, unfair housing practices, federal rental assistance, and a “comprehensive” approach.

DONALD TRUMP (R) incumbent Trump’s signature housing initiative has been the repeal of a rule requiring communities to build low-cost units in neighborhoods where it can relieve racial segregation in housing. The Trump administration also threatened last year to “crack down” on homelessness in California by tearing down encampments and sheltering the homeless in government facilities. Nothing came of it.

Other Public Office Positions on the Ballot to Look Out For

  • Mayoral: The elected head of a city, town, or other municipality.

  • Board of Education: A corporate body that oversees and manages a public school district’s affairs, personnel, and properties.

  • Judge of the Superior Court: The California Superior Courts are the trial courts of the California court system. Each of California’s 58 counties has a superior, or trial, court. The superior courts hear civil and criminal cases, as well as family, probate, and juvenile cases. Judges serve 6 year terms and can run for reelection.

  • City Specific Positions:

  • City Treasurer

  • City Clerk

  • City Council

  • School Board

E. Voting Guide

Some questions to ask when considering to vote…

  • Do you believe housing is a human right?

  • What are your plans to create affordable housing in America?

  • Does this policy adversely affect those experiencing homelessness?

  • Do any homelessness advocacy organization endorse this person/policy? Why?

  • Who wrote this policy and what is their legislative history?

What other questions will you think of to help you consider your vote?

  • Online Resources

  • Ballotpedia: Encyclopedia for everything election-related. Covers federal, state, and local elections. Includes; calendars of dates, parties, candidates, platforms, and information on voter ID, polling stations, ballots, and absentee voting.

  • Vote411: Compares candidates’ positions side-by-side. You can filter by location and select whichever candidates you want to know more about. Uses direct quotes and statements made by candidates themselves.