In this video, we meet Rachel, a homeless woman living in a tent near Downtown San Diego. Rachel is among the many homeless individuals who are facing the harsh consequences of San Diego’s approach to criminalizing homelessness. The city’s strategy involves arresting and penalizing individuals for basic life-sustaining activities, such as sleeping, sitting, or eating in public spaces, when they have nowhere else to go. As a result, Rachel and many others are constantly pushed from one block to another, with their belongings confiscated and thrown away by San Diego Police and Environmental Services.
Rachel shares that homelessness is the hardest job she has ever had, with only two 24/7 bathrooms downtown and no 24/7 showers. There are no days off. No sick days. A homeless person has to walk often miles for water and food every day. Although it is somewhat easy to find a job, maintaining one while living outside homeless is nearly impossible, as shared by Dullanni in his interview from San Diego, Rachel herself was arrested and spent seven days in jail for being without adequate housing after a homeless shelter ran out of beds.
This punitive approach to homelessness has not only failed to address the root causes of the issue but has also made it worse, resulting in a vicious cycle of arrests, fines, and incarceration. It has put a significant burden on already strained public resources and perpetuated a cycle of hardship and despair for San Diego’s most vulnerable residents. It is evident that a more compassionate and effective approach is needed, one that prioritizes housing, mental health care, and social support services to help individuals escape the cycle of homelessness and reintegrate into society.
You can follow Rachel on Twitter here.