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Mayor Gloria’s Homeless Enforcement Push Leads to 8-Fold Spike in Arrests


Officer arrests homeless person
A San Diego police officer arrests a person during an enforcement sweep of sidewalks on Commercial Street in San Diego. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

By Cody Dulaney and Danielle Dawson

So far this year, San Diego police have made eight times as many arrests for encroachment and illegal lodging — infractions largely directed at homeless people — compared to the same time last year, according to data inewsource obtained.

In fact, the number of arrests for these crimes so far has exceeded the total for all of last year. 

This is the result of Mayor Todd Gloria’s latest push for “progressive enforcement,” which penalizes homeless people for not accepting shelter. The city has taken this approach to get people off the street and into a shelter system that is regularly 93% occupied, with the ultimate goal of moving people into permanent housing.

As long as shelter beds are available, police will continue enforcing laws that prohibit homeless people from blocking a sidewalk or sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t, Gloria said during a press conference last week.

“If they don’t want to use them, it’s a free country, I understand that,” he said. “But it’s not without consequences.” 

On the other hand, advocates have argued, and research has found, this approach isn’t effective.

Arrests and citations for these crimes are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, but this action is coming at a time when experts are bracing for the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, and not long after San Diego was given the title of least affordable housing market in the nation.

The number of people living on the streets of San Diego has increased roughly 10% in two years — up from at least 2,283 in 2020 to 2,494 earlier this year, according to the homeless census, which is considered an undercount.

Read the full article on inewsource.org.

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