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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.

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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