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Homeless living along San Diego River to receive increased outreach

Homeless living along San Diego River to receive increased outreach
Posted at 7:40 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 22:51:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego River is filled with colorful flowers and local wildlife, but it’s often talked about negatively, with hundreds of tents and littered trash.

“Do you think people living along the riverbed want to get housing?”

“I don’t think so. Me, myself, I don’t want to be out here," said Rick, an unhoused man living near the river. "I'm working to get off the street.”

Recent San Diego River Park Foundation data shows 340 people living along the riverbed. The County has allocated nearly $8 million in its upcoming budget to help these people. A representative says a majority of the funding will go to outreach services, and the rest will be for emergency and permanent housing.

“At this point, anybody can get housing," Rick said. "We don’t need homeless outreach.”

Rick is pessimistic that this will remove the encampments. He says this site is their best option instead of paying for housing.

“People shouldn’t be experiencing homelessness in the riverbed. It’s not safe for them, and it’s not safe for the riverbed,” said Rachel Downing with the San Diego River Park Foundation.

Downing hopes this funding will make a difference. She often connects unhoused populations along the river with outreach workers.

“I have a lot of hope that it’ll be able to provide resources to people living out here that have not been offered at the scale they’ve been offered before,” Downing said.

After our interview, Downing got Rick in touch with a social worker who would help him find housing. Rick says he’s grateful for all the support.