Within the realm of City Council meetings, where dense discussions and low attendance are the norm, one particular session held in San Diego on June 13 left an indelible mark. The council convened to vote on an encampment ban, and amidst the hours of public comment and heated debates, a claim made by Mayor Todd Gloria captured the attention of investigative reporter Will Huntsberry.
Mayor Gloria had consistently asserted that he had achieved an astounding 70 percent increase in shelter bed capacity. This statistic was utilized by the mayor to rally support for the ban, presenting himself as a leader who had provided abundant options for homeless residents. However, upon closer examination, the veracity of this claim begins to crumble.
During the council meeting, Mayor Gloria’s statement echoed through the chambers: “The unsafe camping ordinance is not a standalone solution. In fact, it comes after they have collectively worked together to expand shelter capacity by 70 percent…”
Yet, a fact check unravels a vastly different reality. In comparison to his predecessor’s tenure, Mayor Gloria has genuinely increased shelter capacity by 28 percent, not the inflated 70 percent as purported. While a 28 percent increase should be acknowledged, it falls far short of the exaggerated figure that the mayor has been touting.
To arrive at the 70 percent claim, the mayor’s team conveniently begins their count on April 1, 2021. This specific date, four months after Gloria assumed office, coincided with a period when shelter beds were artificially reduced due to pandemic-related restrictions. By cherry-picking this particular point in time, when the city funded 1,071 shelter beds, and comparing it to the current funding of 1,805 beds, the mayor’s team manages to construct a misleading narrative of a 70 percent increase.
To provide an accurate assessment, it is imperative to consider a more comprehensive timeframe. If the count started in January 2020, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and prior to Mayor Gloria’s tenure, the city funded 1,409 shelter beds. Therefore, the actual increase achieved under Mayor Gloria’s leadership amounts to 28 percent—a stark contrast to the inflated claim of 70 percent.
The significance of carefully selecting a specific date for such calculations cannot be underestimated. By handpicking a time when shelter capacity was artificially reduced, Mayor Gloria’s team perpetuates a distorted perception of his accomplishments. It is crucial for concerned citizens to recognize the true extent of progress made and to hold elected officials accountable for their claims.
In the role of vigilant members of society, it is the duty of citizens to scrutinize the statements made by leaders and question the veracity of the information presented. Mayor Gloria’s false representation of shelter bed capacity raises doubts about his intentions and brings to light a pattern of prioritizing optics over implementing genuine solutions for constituents. To effectively address the multifaceted issue of homelessness, the community requires leaders who embody transparency, accountability, and a genuine commitment to implementing sustainable measures that truly benefit the community.
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