He Waits for What?

We end the month, and first half of the year, with a somber Featured Image captured tonight. I typically avoid taking photos of San Diego homeless, out of respect for them and their plight. With the high cost of housing, anyone could end up in their situation—particularly with the rising number of renovictions: landlord removes long-time tenants and makes upgrades to justify drastically raising rents.

According to the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, number of the city’s—what I will politely call—street dwellers is up 35 percent from 2022. Broadly, across San Diego County, people aged 55 or older make up 29 percent of the homeless population and about 46 percent are newly in this condition. That circles back to long-time tenants, sometimes for several decades, living in rentals they can manage but being evicted and unable to find affordable housing.

As I explained last week, the median one-bedroom rental in San Diego is $2,543 monthly. Houses are beyond reach even for some high-earners. This 1200-square-foot house, on Mississippi between Meade and The Boulevard, in University Heights, currently lists for $6,495 per month. Older folks with fixed budgets, or anyone earning even the median income of $66,536, won’t easily find a residence that isn’t financially subsidized or shared with others.

Returning to the photo, I wonder what prompted this person to sit on the corner, at Alabama and El Cajon, in UH. Perhaps he wants to enjoy the last light, tinted orange, in the sky beyond the horizon (obscured by buildings and incline); sunset officially occurred four minutes after I clicked the Leica Q2 Monochrom shutter.

He is relaxed, with stocking feet in the gutter and shoes safely behind his back, but yet tense; hands clasp both calves, perhaps from legs tired from a day trudging about the city; all the while, night ushers uncertainty. San Diego wages war on the so-called unhoused, punctuated by this week’s passing of an ordinance that effectively bans tent encampments placed in public spaces.

My feelings are mixed about the encampments and the homeless. Drug addiction and mental illness are stereotypes of merit. But each day, more paying renters lose their residences because of renovictions. Many have nowhere to go but the street, or if lucky,  to a shelter.

Photo vitals: f/2.4, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 7:57 p.m. PDT.