City prepares to open safe campground to combat hepatitis A

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) —The City of San Diego is pushing ahead with plans to open a transitional campground on Monday, to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A.

The City this week announced it would use a city owned property at 20th and B Street to set up a temporary camp zone, for those how are living on the street, and at greatest risk of becoming infected with the virus.

In recent weeks, the San Diego Police Department Police Department has made more arrests for a violation called “encroachment”  in an effort to move people away from the streets, so that sanitation crews can come in and disinfect the public right of ways.

The Police Department says people are first offered shelter and access to services. If they refuse to move from the sidewalk or street, they can be cited for encroachment and may go to jail.

On 17th Street in the East Village, we spoke to Leticia Croce and her fiancee, Randall who have been on living on the street for the past few years. Leticia said she was tired of being arrested for putting up her tent, and then going to jail. “It kind of defeats the purpose of trying to get back on your feet. You can’t get on your feet, if you’re constantly going to jail,” Croce told  us. 

The couple said they would welcome the opportunity to find a place to stay with their belongings, without being subject to arrest.  

The camp area is slated to open Monday with about 130 tents and those at the camp will have toilets, mobile showers, food, access to health care and opportunities to be connected to more permanent housing.

Councilmember Chris Ward said the City will have shuttles so that people can be transported in and out. “There will be no walk-ups. There will be additional security both for those using the campground, as well as security for the surrounding area to protect the neighborhood,” Ward said.  

Many neighbors in the Golden Hill area where the property is located, are worried and fearful about the new camp zone. “I hate to say this, but the rent is expensive here anyway,” said June Price, a young mother who lives in the area.  “You don’t really expect to find a homeless camp on the street where you’re living.”

Another neighbor, Emily Renze-Crouch said, “You can’t keep them hostage. If they do want to go to the store, are they going to shuttle them there? I just don’t see how that’s all logically going to work.”

Ward says this camp zone is only meant to be a temporary solution until  the City can put up large industrial style tents in December, and after that, provide more affordable housing.

Categories: Hepatitis A, Local San Diego News