Group Calls on Mayor to End Arrests, Ticketing of Homeless

The downtown homeless population is the highest it’s been in the past five years, and many are calling it a problem that’s out of control.

Now, some are taking action. They’ve asked Mayor Kevin Faulconer to protect the homeless population and suspend arrests, ticketing and stay-away orders.

Many in the homeless population told NBC7 this is only hindering their efforts of getting off the streets.

Dozens marched to Mayor Faulconer’s office Tuesday with a petition, asking for change.

“We’re calling upon the mayor this first day of business in 2017 to suspend this practice and to focus all of the city’s efforts on sheltering people safely until permanent housing can be found for them,” said Martha Sullivan of Women Occupy San Diego. The group said arresting, ticketing and implementing stay-away orders for the homeless population is not working.

“Besides being cruel and inhumane, it’s also totally ineffective,” Sullivan added.

John Brady has been living on the streets for a little over a year and has been ticketed for leaving his belongings on the sidewalk. Brady told NBC7 he has no way of paying his fine.

“I think the impression is that if you’re homeless and you go to the police that you immediately get a home and shelter, they give you a tent and a sleeping bag; whatever you need to survive. That doesn’t exist,” he said.

Mayor Faulconer’s office has responded to the group’s request.

“We are very appreciative of the community’s passion in support of the unsheltered. This is a growing concern that we share and City staff are working diligently every day to ensure services and beds are made available to homeless individuals. Mayor Faulconer has made addressing homelessness a top priority and plans to discuss solutions at next week’s State of the City address.”

The group started the online petition through Change.org and received 1,100 signatures in just a couple of months.

The latest homeless numbers were released at the end of 2016 by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. They show the average population size of homeless people living in downtown San Diego has nearly doubled in the past four years.