SEE PHOTOS BELOW — There is a homeless crisis on America’s West Coast which is threatening to ruin the reputation of lovely cities like San Diego. According to an Associated Press report published on Wednesday, San Diego, which calls itself “America’s Finest City,” now has more than 3,200 people living on the streets or in their cars.
Deplorable sanitary conditions among the homeless population have contributed to the worst U.S. outbreak of Hepatitis A in 20 years. In just the past year, 20 people have been killed by the liver-damaging virus which is found in fecal matter.
Skyrocketing real estate values in San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and other West Coast cities are the driving force behind the worsening homeless epidemic.
“Some of the most vulnerable are dying in the streets in one of the most desirable and livable regions in America,” a San Diego County grand jury wrote in its June report.
Official responses to the homeless problem haven’t begun to stem the increasing number of people forced to live on San Diego’s streets.
At the moment, industrial-sized tents that can hold 700 people are being constructed by the city in its attempt to temporarily put a roof over people’s heads.
Unfortunately, the city had to take $6.5 million that had been budgeted for permanent homes in order to construct the makeshift shelters.
“Had we actually invested in a homeless strategy, we would not be here today being asked to warehouse 700 people in giant tents,” said Democrat Councilman David Alvarez, who cast the only vote against the plan.
“San Francisco has essentially given up its streets to the homeless,” observed Gordon Walker, head of the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless. “It could go either way here. The real issue is we don’t have enough housing.”
In a city where studio apartments cost an average of $1,500 a month, the number of people living outdoors in San Diego jumped 18 percent over the previous year, according to an annual report from January. Amid the booming economy and soaring rents, more than 400 makeshift shelters crowd the city’s sidewalks.
Most of the homeless are local residents whose income couldn’t keep up with the nearly 8 percent hike in rental costs just this year, according to the AP report.
DML News CEO Dennis Michael Lynch was recently in San Diego and says there is more to the homeless than meets the eye. “Many of the homeless are veterans. They are mixed in with the residents, and in some cases the illegal aliens. The place is a disaster,” said DML who captured some of what he witness in the video below.
Taxpayers feel the brunt of the problem, as well, since San Diego County has already spent more than $4 million to cope with the hepatitis outbreak.
“With more than 560 cases and more than 360 people hospitalized, doctors recommended vaccinations to anyone who regularly goes downtown,” according to the report. Human waste is everywhere as the homeless turn the streets, bays and beaches into a massive, dangerous toilet.
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