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Mayor says Coronado’s approach to homelessness works, but would it across the bay?

By Zara Barker,


CORONADO, Calif. — As homelessness continues to increase in San Diego, there’s one mayor in San Diego County who believes he may have the right approach.

The latest homeless count from the Downtown San Diego Partnership in April showed a record high number of nearly 2,000. But across the bay, it’s a different story.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey says his city is tough on homelessness, and the latest data reflects it, showing the count is zero there.

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“We have to at least come to an understanding that the policies that have been in place region-wide, and also throughout the state of California, have really failed the homeless population and they’ve also failed the surrounding communities,” he said to FOX 5 on Thursday.

Bailey believes his three-step approach could be used in other areas, and that geography isn’t one of the solutions. Those steps include:

  1. Starting to use real-time data to show where shelter beds are available so the homeless can be pointed in the direction of the correct services
  2. Having elected leaders vote on policies that require treatment services to get into shelters
  3. Proactive law enforcement. Bailey said Coronado police will intervene if someone is setting up an encampment or using drugs in public.

“If we can create good policy that addresses this issue, it shouldn’t matter if it’s coming from the political left to the political right,” Bailey said. “We all want a better San Diego.”

But homeless advocate Michael McConnell says he doesn’t see this approach working on the other side of the bridge.

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“I certainly don’t agree with what he’s proposing,” McConnell told FOX 5. “The ‘services before shelter’ or ‘before housing’ model, that’s a model that’s been used for decades and it’s failed.”

He says he agrees with using real-time data but not real-time shelter data.

“You can’t have any kind of site that shows an availability of a bed and 20 people rushing to get it,” McConnell said.

He says he would like to see solutions that are housing first, and safe camping.

“There’s all this push to do policing and force treatment and all of these things when we haven’t even tried fully the methods that have been proven to work,” McConnell said.

Recent homeless efforts in San Diego seem to have fallen along party lines.

“These are just really basic, nonpartisan, common sense, quality-of-life policies that I think will go a long way to helping the homeless individuals that want help and protecting the surrounding communities,” Bailey said.

A news conference is scheduled for Friday morning with several elected officials from the county who are anticipated to speak out against the Housing First initiative, including Bailey and San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond.

“Unfortunately it seems to be that way,” Bailey responded when asked if he thinks homelessness is becoming a partisan issue.

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