SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – City crews on Tuesday morning began cleaning up a homeless encampment along Sports Arena Boulevard in San Diego’s Midway District.
Along the street were nearly 90 tents, dozens of shopping carts, and an estimated 180 people calling the encampment home.
"Over the last month, we have provided services, benefits enrollment several outreaches repeatedly in a hope to try and decrease the numbers,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said ahead of the cleanup.
The solution for now is cleanup efforts by the city’s Environmental Services Department.
“We believe it’s not only a public health issue, but a public safety issue,” Gloria said.
San Diego Police officers on Tuesday morning went tent to tent letting people know to evacuate the area and then sent in trucks this to begin the cleanup operation.
"You know they are responding to a disaster, but with law enforcement not with humanitarian services,” said Lori Saldana, former assemblymember and homeless advocate.
Saldana said she is angry and sad to see the encampment
“There is a solution to this and the city and the county have failed to use federal and state funds to provide housing for hundreds of these people,” she said.
Gloria said the city is working aggressively to address the underlying causes of the issue.
“But we can’t ignore what’s happening on our streets today. I understand where the critics are coming from, but at the end of the day, I don’t get to just talk about this issue, I [have to] do something about it and I’m taking action,” he said.
Gloria said only seven people, as of Monday, have accepted help from the city. The mayor also said the city is continuing to work to make more housing available.