About two dozen activists from the San Diego Socialist Campaign, including their 2016 city-council candidate, gathered Saturday afternoon, August 22, in City Heights to protest what they say are intolerable living conditions created by landlords.
"We're rallying for affordable housing, rent control, affordable housing in San Diego, and aggressive enforcement against slumlords," explained Rachel Scoma from outside the building that houses the county's Health and Human Services offices as well as those of California Housing Works.
"Recently an article came out that said that there are major slumlords in City Heights, and there's little we can do about holding them accountable. We started knocking on doors in City Heights and asking what residents' issues were regarding their landlords. We heard some really powerful horror stories — leaky roofs, roach infestations, the list goes on."
War on Roaches
Sandra Galindo, who is running under the socialist banner in an attempt to take Marti Emerald's District 9 city-council seat in 2016, also spoke, calling for a "war on roaches."
"Living in City Heights is especially bad for those living in low-income housing," Galindo said. "We need to remember that people who live here have incomes among the lowest in San Diego, and…in many of these buildings the living conditions are terribly unsanitary."
The group planned to meet up later in the afternoon with a resident who'd complained repeatedly of roach and vermin infestations, only to be met with a refusal of treatment by her landlord.
Fighting for More Funding
They insisted that their fight was against landlords and a lack of funding for enforcement agencies, rather than the organizations themselves.
"We're not protesting California Housing Works; we want to draw attention to the fact that the agency needs money — they're working on the issue of affordable housing, but they don't get the resources they need. So we're here in support of them," Scoma added.
Criticism was also heavy for a "derelict housing enforcement team" proposed in April by mayor Kevin Faulconer — activists say the budget of roughly $333,000 is insufficient to begin to address problems found throughout the city's lower-income neighborhoods.