EL CAJON (KUSI) – Officials in the City of El Cajon are calling out San Diego County for making El Cajon’s homeless issue “even worse.”
Mayor Bill Wells and City Manager Graham Mitchell announced that the county has been secretly housing homeless people in their motels. Wells and Mitchell are shocked to find out about this, as they found out due to increased reports being made related to homeless issues.
“Not only did we notice an increase in crime and need for medical responses around some of these motels, our police officers started noticing new homeless individuals, along with drug dealers who prey on them, and open drug use,” noted City Manager Graham Mitchell.
Last weekend, the City of El Cajon conducted a study of the motels and found that of the 703 occupied rooms last Saturday night, 26 percent of them (or 185 rooms) were occupied with someone using a homeless motel voucher. According to Mitchell, most of the vouchers were issued by one of the County contractors—Equus and Public Consulting Group.
El Cajon’s study also found that two of the motels—the Travelodge Motel at 425 W. Main Street and the Relax Inn & Suites at 1220 W. Main Street—were 100 percent occupied with those using a voucher. Five other motels had high levels of motel voucher occupancy, mostly issued by Equus. Even without these make shift shelters, El Cajon makes available more homeless shelter beds per capita than any other city in the County.
“It is very frustrating that the County never bothered to let us know about using of El Cajon’s motels as homeless shelters. I wonder if El Cajon is the only city the County dumps its homeless in or are they equally distributed in places like Del Mar and La Jolla?” questioned Mayor Bill Wells.
The homeless people being sheltered at these hotels are continuing to break the laws. City Manager Graham Mitchell explained that he saw one of the tenants of Travelodge Motel rolling up a dollar bill to snort drugs, and another coming off fentanyl.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Joel Anderson both pushed back on Wells’ claim.
In a press release, Supervisor Fletcher said, “The Board of Supervisors is taking action in a bi-partisan way to do the difficult work of getting people off the streets and into permanent housing. Mayor Bill Wells and the City of El Cajon want to push them back onto the streets..”
Supervisor Joel Anderson, who campaigned on bringing the people transparency and represents the area, said Mayor Bill Wells is “misinformed.” Anderson’s statement reads, “To say that the county is secretly using El Cajon as a dumping ground is misinformed. In the future, I believe our shared constituents would be better served if we worked together, rather than through press conferences.”
KUSI’s Ed Lenderman reported all the details live on Good Evening San Diego.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and City Manager Graham Mitchell held a press conference Wednesday to address the public safety issue: