VISTA — Vista Deputy Mayor John Franklin brought homelessness to the forefront during an emotional discussion at the Aug. 21 City Council meeting. Franklin said he believed homelessness is particularly serious in regards to individuals leaving the Vista Detention Facility.
Franklin used the example of somebody who has a history of vagrancy or homelessness, being arrested in another city such as Escondido but jailed in Vista.
“ … when they are released out of jail here, getting back to Escondido might be a big hurdle for them that for some length of time they just choose to reside on the street,” Franklin said.
Franklin wondered if there was a way to help those released get back to their hometown.
Cpt. Charles Cinnamo of the San Diego Sherriff’s Department for the Vista Station was on hand to answer some questions following his mid-year update. Franklin wondered whether when a person is released from jail if someone from the detention center asks if they have a way to get back home.
Cinnamo explained that this was not a requirement, but noted that those released are offered bus tickets and trolley tickets to get to their destination. He was quick to point out that just because the tickets are offered doesn’t mean they are used.
“Many folks get here, and they decide, ‘Hey, we’re just going to hang out and see how this is,’ and they find that they like it,” Cinnamo said. “So, it is an interesting quandary for us, but we have looked at that, and we’ve talked about how we’re going to deal with private entities in the future.”
Franklin said he believed the city of Vista should demand some assurance, possibly a policy of some sort, that every person released should have a plan to get home.
“We should have some greater level of certainty that this person is actually going to make it where they’re going, and if we need to finance a way to get people where they’re going, then it seems to me like it’s a small cost to pay,” Franklin said.
Franklin shared there has to be a right way to solve this problem. As it stands, what is currently happening is not humane and just for those individuals, he said. Franklin added that persons released should not get economically stranded.
Cinnamo explained that for that very reason they are starting regional conversations to help mitigates the issue. He added that there is no reason for the San Diego Police Department to bring a person to Vista and vice versa.
“It’s something we shouldn’t tolerate, and that’s why we started having these conversations,” Cinnamo said. “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We can’t send our problem somewhere else.”
Cinnamo said everyone is aware of this issue and they are trying to determine a way to approach it at a regional level.
In addition to those released from the Vista Detention Facility, Franklin also pinpointed those who were homeless due to mental illness and addiction. He said addressing homelessness should start with human kindness regardless of one’s political ideology.
“It (homelessness) is not what we as compassionate people should ever tolerate in our society. We should insist at whatever cost that everybody has a nutritious meal and that they have a warm place to lay their head at night,” Franklin said. “… We’ve got to start this conversation, and we’ve got to have this conversation.”