Homeless Encampment on Fletcher Parkway
Transient at Collier Park
It may be an oversimplification, but Laura feels there are two basic types of homelessness: the "entrenched," which encompasses those who have lived in public spaces for a long time and suffer from mental illness and/or alcohol and drug addictions. The other category would be the short term people who have fallen on hard times and need temporary help.
Those in the first category pose a mighty challenge - a challenge that must be tackled at county or state level. Cities that try to help the entrenched homeless often spend hundreds of thousands/millions/billions in taxpayer dollars to fix homelessness and usually end up attracting more homeless to their communities; there are never enough beds or rooms and the spillover into the surrounding area brings unsanitary conditions, increased crime, reduced real estate values and businesses avoiding the area.
It does not make economic sense to build homeless shelters in high-rent/high-density areas like Malibu, LA, San Francisco or La Mesa. Facilities that can house the entrenched homeless and offer them shelter from the elements, beds, medical care, counseling, nutrition, etc., should be built where real estate is inexpensive and the communities welcome the economic boon that could be brought by such facilities. Laura advocates for La Mesa connecting with other cities throughout San Diego County to make this happen.
People suddenly facing hard times - perhaps from losing their job to the COVID shutdown, which saw millions of jobs lost - are best helped by those jobs coming back and a strong economy providing jobs. The easier local governments make it for businesses to open their doors, stay open and hire people, the less homeless or on the verge of homeless we will have.
In 2002, Laura fell on hard times. She went through a divorce and lost her home to foreclosure. Being a stay at home mom and not having worked in over 12 years, Laura was unemployed and could not provide a home for herself and her family. She lived on friends' couches and when that wasn't possible, occasionally slept in her car. Her daughters lived in Mexico with Laura's mother and her son lived in Orange County with his grandparents. It took Laura one year to land on her feet, afford a rental and get her kids back with her under one roof.
Thankfully for Laura, Help-U-Sell Realty La Mesa hired her as a receptionist in late 2002. She earned her real estate license in 2003, became a Top 1% Realtor in San Diego County and has earned the distinction of having sold the most homes in La Mesa since 2003. She is a proud La Mesa homeowner, owns rental properties and was able to put her three children through college.
Would that have happened had Laura enrolled in homeless housing and programs? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes being given things removes motivation and motivation is a prime driver of success. As a member of City Council, Laura will work to provide a great environment for companies to thrive and expand. She feels the best way to do that is through regulatory relief.
P.S. For La Mesa, as an emergency option, porta-potties should be installed where people are using the bathroom in alleys and on buildings. Laura hesitates to make this permanent as she does not want to take any actions that could attract more homeless to La Mesa.