Dan McSwain – Union Tribune Reporter

Dan McSwain has person experience with homelessness.  And he’s also a businesses reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune who has been studying homelessness for the past year nearly full time.

Tony spoke with him at length on February 27th, 2017, including the following topics and more:

  • Analysis of the numbers of homeless in San Diego since 2007.
  • How to get people into housing who don’t want to go?
  • That kid ain’t got sense enough to get out of the rain.
  • Causes: 10,000 units of affordable housing disappeared, especially SROs.  That’s more units than the SD housing commission has built since 1979.
  • 8,000+ units have been built by the SD housing commission in the last 12 years, but only 615 have been dedicated to homeless people.
  • If you spread the peanut butter too thin, you can’t taste it.  Quote from Houston about focusing resources on the most vulnerable population in order to have a real impact, instead of spreading it to those slightly higher up on the scale.
  • Identify where all the money is in San Diego, and then focus it on the greatest need.  $400 million / year being spent on homelessness or homelessness prevention, plus private and non-profit money.
  • We probably do need more money, but I don’t know that.  City, county, state agencies have trouble stating what moneys exist and could be dedicated to this issue.  Cash balances that are piling it up at the SD housing authority.  Trouble spending the money they’ve already got at housing commissions.
  • A lot of projects are moving at the housing commission now.
  • Bond measures are hard to pass politically in SD.  If everyone got behind a bond measure for 2018, I’m fearful that everyone would go to sleep until we find out if we’re going to get the money. You squeeze one side of the ballon and the other side gets bigger.
  • Focus on the people who need the help the most and how do we do it in the most efficient way.
  • Lower cost of constructing affordable housing for the homelessness.  City development impact fees, labor unions (increase the cost by 20%), parking space requirements.
  • Developer, labor unions want to build, neighbors want to stop it.
  • Business community needs to get involved.  Hotel owners, people who hold leases on public land, tech entrepreneurs, etc.  Behind the scenes, he believes this is happening.
  • Homeless people don’t have a lobby, but need one.
  • The hardest thing to do is build housing.  Fee, restrictions, NIMBYs.
  • We spend a lot of time in San Diego focusing on what’s wrong with homeless people. We ought to be focusing on what’s wrong with us.  What are we doing that’s wrong in solving homelessness?
  • We have an opportunity.   You can’t solve poverty, but you can solve homelessness in San Diego.
  • Needs coordination and focus.
  • Leadership is starting to coalesce.