California mayor says 94% of homeless people refuse help because of addiction and mental illness

News & Politics

A mayor in California said that 94% of homeless people refuse to accept help because of their issues with addiction and mental illness.

Vista Mayor John Franklin made the comments in an interview with KGTV-TV about the worsening homeless crisis in California.

“Some of them we’ve asked twenty times and developed relationships with,” Franklin said. “And we’ve asked them if they would come and accept a safe warm bed here, three hot meals a day, a hot shower, clean clothes, and unfortunately, because of mental illness and addiction, the answer is, ‘We don’t want to come.'”

‘I know it’s true. I believe it’s true, but it is shocking.’

A point-in-time count of the homeless population found that the city only had about 170 homeless people, but the figure represents almost double the number from last year when it was only 88 people.

The report found similar increases in nearby regions of San Diego County, including 87% in Carlsbad, 69% in Encinitas, 32% in Escondido, and 25% in Oceanside. Three other cities reported a slight decline in the homeless population.

Hannah Gailey, executive director of the nonprofit Retread Housing Services, told KGTV that the report matches her experience.

“I know it’s true. I believe it’s true, but it is shocking to me that so many people have become homeless in the last year,” she said.

Gailey runs a center focused on helping homeless people in Encinitas and Vista with millions of dollars of state funds. The organization supports 48 beds and provides services to help homeless people get out of addiction and find long-term housing.

“I think people would be surprised by how ordinary their unhoused neighbors are,” Gailey added. “That it is not always extraordinary circumstances that leave people unsheltered.”

KGTV interviewed one of the homeless men who was living at the center after he said health issues made him lose his residence.

“The only thing I need is to go back to work and then that’s it, that’s what I need, to get to 100% with my health issue,” said Gilbert Sanchez.

Sanchez worked as an independent handyman but needed surgery after hurting his back. After the surgery he was unable to work and became homeless.

Franklin posted a video of the KGTV news report on his YouTube channel. He says that the city has cleaned up hundreds of encampments while providing services to homeless people who are willing to accept them.

Vista is a city of about 99k residents located about seven miles from the Pacific Ocean in northern San Diego County. The median single family home in Vista sells for about $886k according to Zillow.

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