Supervisor Joel Anderson says homeless aren’t criminals, but the victims of criminals
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Earlier this summer, a massive, crime-ridden homeless encampment was plaguing east San Diego County.
The encampment was set up just outside the City of El Cajon limits, so Mayor Bill Wells had no jurisdiction to remove them. In March, Mayor Wells told KUSI’s Dan Plante the massive homeless encampment was situated on San Diego County land, just across the street from the City of El Cajon. Wells does not allow sidewalk encampments in the City of El Cajon, and voiced his concern with the large encampment right across the street from El Cajon businesses.
But despite all the concerns from Mayor Wells, and residents of the area, San Diego County took forever to do anything about this criminal encampment. Within about two weeks, two different girls claimed to be raped at this encampment. KUSI’s Teresa Sardina even spoke with Sharie Finn, the mother of the first rape victim.
Sardina reached out to Supervisor Joel Anderson for comment, who represents the area, but his office deferred her to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
Fast forward to August 2022, and Supervisor Anderson is touting the response to homelessness as a success. He joined KUSI’s Lauren Phinney on Good Morning San Diego to share details on the county’s first “Safe Parking Lot” at the site of the former criminal homeless encampment.
Anderson says this was a direct result of his “Compassionate Emergency Solutions” board letter that passed unanimously in October 2021.
Anderson explained many members of San Diego County’s homeless population are older, have jobs, living out of their cars with kids going to school. The new “Safe Parking Lot” will allow qualified homeless people to safely set their vehicles up in the lot from 5:00 PM, until 7:00 AM the next morning, when the lot must be cleared.
The Dreams for Change organization was contracted to operate the safe parking lot that will have restrooms available, and a “path to permanent housing.”
According to Anderson, there are over 700 cars around the county that serve as homes to the homeless. This specific lot has 17 parking spaces.
Teresa Smith, the CEO of Dreams for Change says they have been working with the county outreach workers to refer homeless people they’ve come in contact with to spend the night in the new safe parking lot. After people have been referred, she explained they take them through a process to eventually line them up with permanent housing, which is different for each individual.
There is no alcohol or drugs allowed on the lot, and RVs are not allowed.
KUSI’s Lauren Phinney asked Anderson about the criminal encampment that was at this location earlier this summer, but Anderson seemed to brush it off. He said, “if you’re a big burly person and you have a gun, chances are you’re not a target of a crime. If you’re living in a tent, down on your luck, you’re an easy target for criminals. So it’s not so much that the homeless are criminals, the homeless are prey to criminals.”
Anderson then said he took office just a year and a half ago, and he’s made homelessness a huge priority.
He made no mention of the two girls who were raped at the criminal encampment in his district.