By Dr. John E. Warren
The San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness with its San Diego City and County Continuum of Care is to be commended for the substance and level of involvement of community and its presentation of the historical context responsible for the disparities that have contributed to much of our homelessness among Black people, both here in San Diego and throughout the United States. The historical context of the report is without apology, as it should be. The community engagement and methodology through the use of focus groups consisting of those who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness is crucial to presenting so much of what has been an untold story of discrimination, even today, by the very people who are supposed to be providing assistance to the unsheltered.
So many of us living in present-day San Diego are too young to know what it was like for those who came before us, living under “restrictive covenants” that not only determined where we could live based on the color of our skin but also provided legalized racism and discrimination through “redlining lending policies and practices” that worked in conjunction with discriminatory language written into deeds preventing the sale of property even if some wanted to sale to us. While today restrictive covenants have been found unconstitutional and Redlining is officially off the table, the number of homeless people is being increased by raised rents and the Black Listing of those who have faced evictions due to the pandemic, unemployment or forced evictions because they can no longer afford the rents. At some point, the issue of Rent Control will have to be put on the table along with any action items proposed for addressing Homelessness Among Black San Diegans since we know that discriminatory leasing is still a reality based on one’s color, even in America’s Finest City.
The 49% of our County’s residents who are renters should look very closely at this report because they could very soon find themselves joining the ranks of the very people that this City and County Continuum of Care is attempting to address.
Dr. John E. Warren is publisher of The San Diego Voice and Viewpoint.