In his final “State of the City” address, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said San Diego and other California cities must focus on treating mental illness and substance abuse to end homelessness.
“If you think someone living in a canyon and on drugs is going to turn around without intervention, you’re kidding yourself,” said Faulconer.
He said he was proud of San Diego’s efforts to provide new affordable housing, but argued that lack of housing isn’t the fundamental problem. He vowed to work in the coming years for a state ballot initiative to give authorities the power to intervene to help homeless people suffering from mental illness or drug abuse.
“California has lost its way on homelessness and it is up to us to find the moral compass,” he said. “It’s time to get real about these problems.”
But he expressed pride in the steps that San Diego has taken, many in the wake of the hepatitis A outbreak in 2017. He said 100,000 people had been vaccinated, bridge shelters and safe nighttime parking lots had been set up, and funding had increased significantly.
And he announced plans to send county mental illness teams into all homeless bridge shelters this year.