Bill may redirect homeless to shelters

State Sen. Brian Jones

California State Sen. Brian Jones announced a new state bill he will introduce at the next legislative session which would prohibit homeless encampments near sensitive community areas such as schools, parks, libraries, and day-care centers and would require law enforcement officers to provide information about sleeping alternatives, homeless and mental health services, and homeless shelters.

If the bill becomes California law, anyone in violation could be charged with a misdemeanor or infraction at the discretion of the district attorney, county counsel of the county, or the city attorney of any jurisdiction. However, the bill also specifies that law enforcement officers must provide written notice in a language understood by the person at least 72 hours in advance of any citation.

In East County, however, shelter space is limited, posing a potential hurdle for law enforcement officers required to inform homeless individuals of options as well as a challenge for individuals with scant shelter options.

There are no shelters in Lakeside, Alpine, Santee or La Mesa and El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell recently said the city does not plan to construct more shelters until the county of San Diego builds facilities in other East county communities.

Additionally, homelessness is on the rise: San Diego county statistics indicate the total number of homeless in El Cajon increased by 69% between 2020 and 2022.

According to a representative from Jones’ office, the senator met with and gathered advance feedback from local homeless outreach groups including East County Transitional Living Center, an El Cajon faith-based facility which supports the measure.

The 450-bed facility, along with El Cajon-based Crisis House, is one of just two shelters in East county.

“At this early point in the legislative path of this bill, we envision the information provided to homeless individuals impacted would be the most up-to-date available services within the general vicinity,” Communications Director Nina Krishel said on behalf of Jones.

“Senator Jones is always more than willing to work with stakeholders looking to improve the bill, with the end goal being to compassionately clearing encampments from inappropriate places such as parks, libraries, schools, and daycare centers, and helping get these homeless individuals into appropriate health and housing programs,” Krishel said.

The bill is scheduled to be introduced and would begin moving through California legislation in December.


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