Tag: homeless

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Abandoned

On Veterans Day, I passed by this pair of abandoned boots alongside the Monroe Avenue wall of LeStat’s on Park in the San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. Perhaps some street person lost them or they were left for one of the area’s homeless.

I stopped for the Featured Image, taken with Leica Q2, thinking to update illustration for a 16-year-old post. The footwear’s good-looking condition and odd location tweaked my interest. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/30 sec, 28mm; 10:33 a.m. PST.

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Homeless in Hillcrest

This gentleman is one of the many street dwellers seen today, when I walked from University Heights to neighboring Hillcrest on an errand. He caught my attention for what the Featured Image fails to reveal: The large load of belongings on the cart and spread somewhat down the sidewalk. He also was overdressed for the unseasonably warm day—25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), when I used Leica Q2 Monochrom to take the street shot from the hip. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 2:20 p.m. PST.

While you might think otherwise from the profile and apparent skin color, he is a white guy. Anyone living long under the San Diego sun will become darker, with respect to skin tone; dirt and grime contribute to the change. This characteristic distinguishes the truly indigent from people begging for money; the grifter will often send off a benefactor with “God bless you”. The others offer thanks, with a sincerity of appreciation that is unmistakably authentic.

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Abandoned Homeless Shelter

On Nov. 3, 2021, alongside the Adams Substation (e.g. electrical hub) in University Heights, my wife and I passed by the makeshift refuge that you see in the Featured Image. For concern someone might be sleeping inside, I shot Leica Q2 from the hip, seeking not to disturb the resident. The first companion, taken the next day, looks towards the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the alley behind Alabama Street and across from Old Trolley Barn Park.

Vitals, aperture manually set for all: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:39 a.m. PDT. The other: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 11:15 a.m., the next day. In the second photo you can see a bicycle behind the utility box. The entire setup was cleverly constructed but surprising for the busy location.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Yesterday, a homeless dude slept on this sofa when I walked by. Today, somebody surely seems determined to discourage his return. That is, unless he stacked up the recyclable refuse to protect his siesta spot. I observed the jacket with him when sauntering past and respectively choosing not to take his photo.

Best I can do is the Featured Image, and companion, both captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/8, ISO 400, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:13 a.m. PDT.

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The Sweeper

Two days ago, outside the same pharmacy where on March 18, 2021 lay a man death-like, another seemingly street-living gent swept debris and refuse. If only I had context but do not. As my wife and I entered the building, he cleaned up nearby his presumed belongings partially visible in the foreground of the Featured Image. He used a fairly good-condition broom, and there was nearby one of those jumbo, yellow, industrial dustpans—similar to this Quickie model, if not the same one. The well-weathered gentleman moved slowly about his task but deliberately.

When exiting, we could see that the sweeper had moved closer to the street. As we passed, I snapped three quick hip shots, using Leica Q2. This wild portrait is best of the trio. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 2:32 p.m. PDT.

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What Have We Become?

During my thirteen-and-a-half years living in San Diego, I have resisted taking any photos of the city’s thousands of homeless—whose presence is more pronounced by the day. They deserve dignity, rather than exploitation by street shooters. But, today, the sorry state of a gentlemen sprawled out nearby the entrance to a pharmacy in Hillcrest demanded attention, and mention, so here we are with a Featured Image and companion captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 11:02 a.m. PDT. The other is same but 1/1250 sec.

I was aghast at how casually people walked by the man, who was stretched out in death-like position facing the building. He was an obstacle that passersby moved around. No one bothered to see if he was alive (after some long observation, I detected breathing). I was immediately reminded about history lessons and news stories read during my grade school years about the USSR—people lying dead in the streets and Soviet citizens walking around them; commonplace sightings, presumably, become part of the background of life. Is that really what we have come to be in the United States of America—or in what I unaffectionately call Communist California?

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Message to the Homeless?

While walking with my wife along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights community, we passed by a sign that I ignored, then turned back to capture. What does “dumping” mean, I wonder. Could it be throwing garbage into the canyon, which access would be difficult but possible from that location? Or could it refer to the business that people do when they need to, ah, relieve themselves?

Pricey Panorama, where are some of the costliest homes in UH, would be one of the neighborhood’s least welcoming of the homeless—and more are seen in the area everyday, although likelier two to three blocks closer to El Cajon Blvd. And, yes, they are known to “dump” in unexpected places. With SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 restrictions keeping eatery dining rooms closed and most retailers barring bathrooms to the public, everyone is limited on where to go when nature calls. So I got to wonder, who is the sign meant for?

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Surely There is a Better Way to Help the Homeless

I specifically shot the Featured Image, yesterday using Leica Q2, to illustrate this essay. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. The carts belonged to one of three homeless men gathered together a few meters away on the Hillcrest side of Vermont Street Bridge (University Heights is on the other). For sure, San Diego has a significant indigent population. But I write about San Francisco and something that surprises me—and perhaps will you, too.

According to the SF Chronicle (sorry, subscription required), the city is “currently sheltering more than 2,200 homeless people in about 25 hotels” and the “monthly program costs range from $15 million to $18 million”. By my math, that works out to between $6,818.18 to $8,8181.82 per person each month. If these people were paid, the equivalent annual salary would be between $82,000 and $98,000. Oh, and looks like the United States government will cover costs through the end of September 2021.

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The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

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Tent City

From the Adams Ave. overlook, seen across the canyon to the backside of Franciscan Way, a tented home hugs the hillside. In early Summer, My wife and I walked through the multi-level dwelling during one of its countless Open Houses over the course of many, many months. The overly-expansive layout, square-footage (3,860), and $1.7 million asking price were reasons for our disinterest—and perhaps many other people. There is a pending sale, as of the week before Christmas, for $1.55M, which explains the extermination rig.

Californians tent homes to fumigate, which is common practice before a new sale closes. Think of it as a temporary tent city for vermin, before insecticide snuffs them out. Funny thing, tent city also refers to where groups of the downtown homeless gather together. If neighborhood banter on the NextDoor social network is revealing, there are many University Heights residents who view indigents as vermin they would like to eliminate

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Along Park Blvd

Yesterday afternoon, I walked 1.6 km (1 mile) from the Greyhound depot to the McDonald’s nearby San Diego High School, where my daughter graduated five years ago; my legs needed movement after being too long motionless during the three-hour ride from Long Beach. I had made an overnight-trip to see my niece Lynnae, who was on the West Coast for business.

Soon after the bus exited Interstate 5, I saw the extent of the city’s homeless crisis for the first time. Tents lined several blocks (at least) along what may have been National Avenue. According to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the number of homeless people living unsheltered has increased 41 percent since 2014. There are 937 (recorded) tents, up 58 percent year over year. Data is current as of July.