• Martin Arceo

Homelessness in the 2020 election

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

This post will go over various policies on the November 2020 election ballot and discuss their impacts on people experiencing homelessness. It will also cover various candidates and their positions on the homelessness crisis.

*** Mustard Seed Project is a nonpartisan organization that unequivocally supports our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This workshop is for educational purposes and is not meant to endorse any politician. party, or policy. Make your own judgments and do your own research before voting.


A. The Problem

  • Over 1,400,000 people stayed in a shelter in a single year, this does not include domestic violence shelters. (2017)

  • 33% of people experiencing homelessness are families with children.

  • 553,000 (under-counted) slept in a shelter, transitional housing, or a public place in a single night. (HUD 2018)

  • From 1990-2016 the average cost of rent rose 20% faster than overall inflation. The average home price rose 41%.

  • As a result of the lack of affordable housing for extremely low-income (ELI) renters, only 37 units were available for every 100 in need.

  • 90% of new apartment construction from 2017-2018 were luxury units.

  • 9 million ELI renters spend more than half of their income on housing and utilities.


B. Systemic Contributing Factors (but by no means all)

  • Systemic Racial Injustice: Racial minorities experience homelessness at disproportionate rates. Black people make up 13% of the US population, 21% of the poverty population, and 40% of the homeless population.

  • Stigma: Stigmas against individuals experiencing homelessness prevent them from accessing crucial resources and opportunities.

  • High Barrier Social Services: While resources to support individuals experiencing homelessness exist, these resources are often near impossible to access (transportation, language, documents/identification, legal status, etc.)

  • Lack of Affordable Housing: A lack of physical housing units, rising rent, income inequality, and numerous other factors play into this.

  • Low Wages: The current minimum wage is not a living wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25

  • Mental/Physical Healthcare: Oftentimes a lack of mental or physical healthcare is the reason one might be experiencing homelessness. It can also be one of the biggest barriers to escaping homelessness.


C. Propositions and Measure in San Diego County


City of San Diego - Measure A

General Obligation Bonds for Affordable Housing

Authorizes the city to issue up to $900 million in bonds with bond revenue going to fund low-income, substance abuse, and mental health service housing requiring an estimated property tax levy of between $3 and $21 per $100,000 in assessed value.

YES This local investment not only allows us to address homelessness but also provides affordable homes so hard-working San Diego families can afford to stay in our city. It will also generate the local resources necessary to receive millions in federal and state matching funds that we currently leave on the table.

NO San Diego already has the highest property tax rate in the county and too many working families are struggling with the high cost-of-living already. In the midst of a pandemic, San Diegans can’t afford a massive property tax increase.


City of Imperial Beach - Measure I

Imperial Beach Emergency Response

Shall the ordinance to maintain fire protection, paramedics, 911 emergency response, prevention programs, neighborhood/community crime prevention; address homelessness; improve natural disaster/medical/emergency response; maintain streets; maintain lifeguard center, parks, community center, youth/after-school/senior programs; other general services, by establishing a 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $1,300,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring independent audits, public disclosure of spending, all funds for Imperial Beach, be adopted.


YES Vote YES on “I” to address public safety, homelessness and traffic congestion challenges to keep Imperial Beach a quality community to live, work and raise a family through the uncertain times ahead. We don’t know how long the effects of this pandemic will last – vote YES on “I” to keep Imperial Beach self-reliant for any health emergency or catastrophic disaster. Vote YES on “I” to make sure Imperial Beach’s local Sheriff and fire protection services are prepared for any emergency.

NO A “No” vote is a vote to decline this tax.

Valley Center Protection District - Measure AA

To maintain/improve local fire protection/emergency medical services and wildfire/natural disaster preparedness/response; recruit/retain firefighters/paramedics; build a fire station to improve response times; replace aging equipment; shall Valley Center Fire Protection District’s measure levying 6¢ per square foot of improved residential property, $49 per unimproved parcel, with different rates for other property types, providing $820,000 annually for local use, until ended by voters; with senior exemptions and independent oversight, be adopted.


YES The risks are high and growing: Experts tell us that the brain starts deteriorating 4-6 minutes after a person stops breathing. However, the average 911 response time in Valley Center is 10 minutes. Some firefighting and lifesaving emergency medical equipment is so old it no longer meets current safety standards. VCFPD can only afford to offer low wages and benefits, so firefighters must take on multiple jobs to get by - or worse, they train here and leave for better jobs elsewhere.

NO Measure AA is another tax increase that will make owning a home in Valley Center more expensive, taxing the residents of Valley Center $820,000 PER YEAR WITH NO END IN SIGHT.


California - Prop 21 (statewide)

Local Rent Control Initiative


YES Supports this ballot initiative to allow the local government to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.

SUPPORTERS Senator Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Dolores Huerta, AFSCME CA, Democratic Party

NO Opposed this ballot initiative, thereby continuing to prohibit rent control on housing that was first occupied after February 1, 1995, and housing units with distinct titles, such as single-family homes.

OPPOSITION Gov. Newson, GOP, AMVETS, CA Conference of Carpenters, CA District of Iron Workers


D. Candidates for Public Office


SD County Board of Supervisors - District No. 1

(Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, Barrio Logan, Chollas View, Grant Hill, La Playa, Lincoln Park, Logan Heights, Memorial, Mount Hope, Mountain View, Nestor, Otay, Palm City, Point Loma, San Ysidro, Shelltown, Sherman Heights, Southcrest, Stockton, Sunset Cliffs, part of Downtown San Diego, Bonita, Sunnyside, Lincoln Acres, and East Otay Mesa)


BEN HUESO *Has not made any recent statements on homelessness. Worked on helping small businesses, protecting victims of domestic violence, prohibiting the sale of synthetic drugs, securing clean and reliable water resources, and stimulating the economy.


NORA VARGAS We have to strengthen our collaborative work and streamline access to resources and provide wraparound services. It is important that we create individual plans for our homeless population and remove the barriers that made someone become homeless in the first place. Additionally, we need to take the lead in addressing the housing shortage and skyrocketing rental prices. We need to preserve, protect, and produce affordable housing stock for young people, working families, veterans, and seniors on fixed incomes.



SD County Board of Supervisors - District No. 2

(El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Poway, Santee, Agua Caliente, Allied Gardens, Alpine, Barrett, Blossom Valley, Bostonia, Boulevard, Campo, Canebrake, Casa de Oro, College Area, Crest, Cuyamaca, Dehesa, Del Cerro, Descanso, Dulzura, Eucalyptus Hills, Fernbrook, Flinn Springs, Granite Hills, Grantville, Guatay, Harbison Canyon, Jacumba, Jamul, Johnstown, Julian, Lake Morena, Lakeside, Mount Helix, Pine Hills, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Rolando, San Carlos, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Spring Valley, Tecate, Tierra del Sol, Vallecitos, Wynola, Barona, Campo, Cosmit, Ewiiaapaayp, Inaja, Jamul, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Sycuan, and Viejas)


JOEL ANDERSON “One of my top priorities is to bring more mental health and human services resources to help get mentally ill and homeless individuals the care they need to get off the streets. It is not fair to those who are suffering on the streets, law enforcement, or the communities where they reside, to continue to ignore the physically and mentally ill people who need shelter and treatment.”


STEVE VAUS “Homelessness doesn’t respect city boundaries and we need to treat it that way. It's now a problem and it’s a longer-term problem. Let’s get them into those hotel rooms, but we need to solve the longer-term problem of transitional housing and then permanent housing, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”



SD County Board of Supervisors - District No. 3

(Sorrento Valley, Torrey Pines Mesa, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Escondido, San Pasqual Valley, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Scripps Ranch, Tierrasanta, Sabre Springs, Mira Mesa, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar)


KRISTIN GASPAR Launched The Other Side Academy here in San Diego. The Other Side transforms the lives of the formerly incarcerated, those suffering from addiction, and those with mental health issues by bucking conventional wisdom and using accountability and programs that emphasize self-sufficiency rather than government-reliance. Residents live in a drug-free home and learn to develop their strengths by helping each other. With a focus on changing negative behaviors through peer interactions, they learn social norms, build social skills, and become self-sufficient.


TERRA LAWSON-REMER Reduce homelessness by increasing ‘housing first’ investments, expanding shelter capacity, and decriminalizing homelessness. “I will create a 911-style 24-hour response team composed of social service providers to be the first responders on the scene when there is a call about a homeless or mentally ill individual, so people in crisis can get immediate access to the social services they need instead of being locked-up in jail. And I will increase the county’s investment in mental health services and shelters with wraparound services, so treatment is available for our homeless in need.