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Mayor Questions Santee Homeless Count By the Regional Task Force on the Homeless

Mayor Voepel says this year's count of 58 homeless in Santee is too high and not accurate, brings it up to the City Council.

See to Mayor Voepel's questioning.

Last week, Santee sent a letter to , executive director of the (RTFH), questioning the recent homeless count which tallied , up from 15 the year before.

Mayor Voepel has put an item on Wednesday's agenda addressing the issue:

"Dating back to 1997, the City of Santee has expressed concerns over the number of homeless as reported by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. The figures reported by the Task Force over the past few years have been in line with our estimates. However, in March 2011, the Task Force reported a 287% increase (from 15 to 58) in the number of homeless in Santee.

"While the does not formally count the number of homeless, the COPPS deputies and other personnel patrol our community daily and have consistently documented 12 to 15 homeless each year. Currently, the Santee Sheriff's Station can accurately identify 14 in Santee. They have never contacted or had reported to them any homeless children.

"I would like the number of homeless in Santee to be accurately documented, and ask the Regional Task Force on the Homeless to correct their figures."

Callstrom replied with a letter explaining the purpose of the RTFH annual count, a bit about their methods and reached out with a willingness to cooperate with the :

"Our purpose and intent is simply to conduct an objective count for those who are homeless throughout the entire County. If any errors have been made, we would certainly correct what has been reported. As such, we are revisiting all maps/tallies in Santee to ensure what our volunteers reported to us. If the count needs to be adjusted, we will proactively inform you...

"Also, we understand that their may be variations in annual counts for various reasons: number of volunteers who are able to cover every map within each city; where people are residing (e.g., riverbed, parks, streets, vehicles, and more) during the PITC window of time (4am-8am on one given day) in which we count; who happens to be homeless in the area during that window of time; the definition of homelessness, etc."

The letter ended saying that RTFH would be willing to meet with the City Council to discuss their "methodology, findings, and analysis."

While Mayor Voepel began on the warpath against RTFH, at one point writing in an email that "helping the homeless is a medium sized non-profit industry in San Diego County," Callstrom's conciliatory tones and bringing the topic to the table at the Council meeting has made him more proactive about the issue, even writing that he'd like to actively help with Santee's homeless count next year.

"Lastly, I would like to take you up on your invitation to participate in next year’s count, assuming my schedule is open, especially in the morning.  I will work with our Sheriff’s to make sure we know where our homeless hooch’s are," wrote Mayor Voepel, in his reply to Callstrom.

The letters/emails between Mayor Voepel and Executive Director Peter Callstrom and the item submitted to the City Council can be found in the media box.

Peggy April 26, 2011 at 10:46 PM
As a 35 year resident of Santee, I'm not sure our Mayor has walked around Santee lately. I certainly have seen more than 14 different individuals, from Mast Park, to the bridge near Westhills High, to the riverbed, to the various canyons, to the Target parking lot. 58 doesn't seem out of range.
Bill Howell April 27, 2011 at 02:51 AM
I've lived here 40 years, I'm not anonymous, and I know our Mayor has been walking around lately. 58 is completely out of range, counted by people who want to pad their numbers for more grant money. It would not surprise me if they counted the pimps sleeping in their cars in the Las Colinas parking lot, awaiting their 'business associates' to be released as homeless. But that travesty is another matter. I see about a dozen or so regulars gathering aluminum cans, and once in a while one will try to panhandle a little bit, but by and large, our homeless are folks who have chosen this lifestyle due to their mental, alcohol, or drug dependency problems. They have just chosen a warm and very safe community in which to reside. I would not mind one bit getting together with whomever and doing an accurate count.....but really, who cares? As long as they do not create a problem and are not victimized, leave them be. Bill Howell
Kathy April 27, 2011 at 03:35 AM
I have seen a significant increase of Homeless in Santee, especially around the Trolley Square. The other day, I saw a gentleman, approximately 75+ years old, nicely dressed and groomed, using a cane and had a cardboard sign, stating " My Landlord is taking advantage of all the foreclosure residents and has raised my rent too high for me to afford. I have worked and paid taxes for over 60 years and my wife passed away last year, so I only have my social security, which is not very much. I cannot afford to move and I have to make a decision to pay for my medication or food. I am extremely ashamed to have to ask for donations but if I don't, I will have to live on the streets. Can you help me please?" Let me tell you it brought me to tears and I gladly made a donation. THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! HOW CAN WE ALLOW A MEMBER OF OUR SOCIETY TO WORK ALL HIS LIFE, PAY TAXES, CONTRIBUTE TO OUR COUNTRY, TO HAVE TO STOOP TO THIS LEVEL! We are so quick to senD money to other countries and yet we cannot or should I say, will not take care of our own. We will allow foreigners to move into our country and get financial aid within months. We will allow illegal immigrants stay in our country, abuse our system, commit crimes, take jobs away from us and get medical attention for free. SEE NEXT POSTING FOR CONTINUATION
Kathy April 27, 2011 at 03:44 AM
CONTINUED FROM EARLIER POST Instead of our Mayor being so concern that the Homeless count is inaccurate, let him come up with a solution to the Homeless problem. It doesn't matter if we have 10 or 100 Homeless in Santee, we need to find out why they are Homeless and what we can do to get them off the streets, by providing a way they can exist as a human being. Now, I know that there are many Homeless that are drug addicts and alcoholics and probably prefer to be Homeless and if you give them any money, they will use the money to feed their addiction. However, not everyone who is Homeless is a drug addict or alcoholic, they are average Americans, just like you and I. You see, we ourselves, could be one of those Homeless people someday, especially in today's economy, no one is exempt from it. So, Mr Voepel, as the Mayor of Santee, who represents the residents of Santee, even the Homeless in Santee, let's find a solution. It seems to me a solution should be your priority, over your pride. Mr. Voepel, please don't be a typical Politician that cares about his ratings instead of what is important, which is help your fellow mankind.
mike April 27, 2011 at 06:41 AM
I was born in san diego and have been homeless it sucks, Santee is ill equiped to help its residences, when a santee residence becomes homeless the only choice is to go to other citys that have a system to care for them .santee has 0 zero programs to help them , its much easyer to say we only have 12 homeless people so we can say we dont have a problem, have you been to the santee food bank lately? seems like a problem exist to me i mean who wants to eat old food if they dont have to? i think 58 homeless is low many go from family to friends homes and that includes many children have you tryed to find a jod lately? they want 1500 dallars for a apartment in santee and most renters want your income to be 3 times your income thats 4500 bucks a month and the trend now is to make apartments into condos and where do the former residences go ? dont know? do you care? have you ever taken a bath with a garden hose or walked 2 miles for a dinner?do think that all homeless women and children are mental and choose this as a lifestyle ? and you say who cares? what if this was your mom or child?I think you probally represent the general state of mind in santee you know not in my backyard, what makes you better than them your ability to pay?i know for a fact that a family of 4 lived next to r c p lake and they had two children under 6 years old and they wernt camping out,we have a sheriffs department that is agressive towards the homeless
Bill Howell April 27, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Kathy, go read the San Diego County Grand Jury Report on homelessness. The issue here is not what to do about it (it's out of our hands really), but how many some outsiders say are in our city, giving us a bad reputation. Bill
cheryl castillo April 27, 2011 at 04:33 PM
I read this in the paper, the next day when I was at Santee Trolley I heard a homeless Vet telling someone how recently 5 police officers came up to him harrassing him to leave the food court, he told them he buys food from several of the places, his shoes from payless, etc. I told him it may have to do with the Mayor saying we only have 12 homeless people in Santee, he laughed and told me theres at least 40-50, & they need to check by the creek, that lots of them live there.
Kathy April 27, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Maybe we should have all the Homeless in Santee show up at Mr. Voepel's office, so he can take a accurate count. The Sheriffs do monitor and keep the Homeless moving, but if they didn't then we might find the entire San Diego Homeless population here, in wonderful Santee. As I said, we need to come up with a solution, not sweep them under the rug and pretend they don't exist.
daily viewer April 27, 2011 at 07:51 PM
dont forget to add the people that have to live with family who can not afford to rent on their own.
Kathy April 27, 2011 at 08:45 PM
That doesn't count according to Mr. Voepel. You know, out of sight, out of mind. ANYONE, can become Homeless, even Mr. Voepel.
daily viewer April 27, 2011 at 09:08 PM
I am homeless with a wife and 4 kids. we live with our sister, if not for her we would be at a shelter or on the street.
Kathy April 27, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I think what some people don't realize, is that you cannot get a job without a residential address, So even if you were Homeless, jobless and wanted to get a job, you would not be able to. The Homeless have many battles to fight and have very little support from our government, state or city. It is easy to complain but much harder to find a solution to help the Homeless. I couldn't imagine being Homeless and have children, it must be a parents nightmare.
Tom Leslie April 28, 2011 at 05:11 PM
There is an old adage that states"if you are not part of the solution then you are a part of the problem" I am a 15 yr homeowner and resident of Santee and was formerly homeless. I also participated in the Homeless Count and am convinced that based on the methodology that was used the number is an accurate representation of the Homeless observered in Santee despite the protestations of our Mayor. I would think that the City Councils time is better spent on enhancing the great quality of life we experience here rather than spending thier time arguing over the number of homeless. Contrary to Mr Howells assertions counting "pimps" in cars was not part of the methodology nor does the count have anthything to do with receiving grant funding. His statement "who cares" says more about him than what is obvious from reading the other comments
Motivated Santee Citizen April 30, 2011 at 06:10 AM
58 homeless people for close to 55,000 residents. Seems low to me considering all of the river bottom areas and backcountry around Santee that they can live in undisturbed or undetected. People don't even see things that are right in the open let alone people that are trying to stay out of sight. When was the last time any of our "volunteer" city council people that have other full time jobs and families got out and walked around counting homeless people? There are bigger, more important things to worry about in Santee than if the Mayor thinks a number of 58 homeless will tarnish the image of his "La Jolla of the east county" slogan.

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