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Mixed reviews for homeless in El Cajon motels

Relax Inn and Travelodge 100% occupied with vouchers

City manager Graham Mitchell visited the Travelodge: "Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well."
City manager Graham Mitchell visited the Travelodge: "Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well."

So far this past year, the El Cajon's Police Department responded to 7,379 calls for service related to homelessness which is a "massive jump compared to approximately 2,500 calls in 2014," posted the city of El Cajon's Facebook page last week.

Part of the reason for the near triple uptick in these calls is because the motels in their city are taking in homeless motel vouchers, said city manager Graham Mitchell last month. “Not only did we notice an increase in crime and need for medical responses around some of these motels, [but] our police officers started noticing new homeless individuals, along with drug dealers who prey on them and open drug use."

Two motels, Relax Inn and Suites at 1220 West Main Street and Travelodge Motel at 425 West Main Street, were 100 percent occupied by people with homeless motel vouchers. There were five additional motels with a high percentage of rooms paid for with homeless motel vouchers. Mitchell said most of the vouchers were issued by one of the San Diego County contractors—Equus and Public Consulting Group.

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Last month, I drove to Relax Inn and Suites and didn't see anything happening out of the ordinary in the parking lot, which is shared with Denny's. Then I spoke to a 7-Eleven employee, who said the crime rate in the area hasn't increased since the motel across the street took in homeless motel vouchers for all of their rooms.

A 7-Eleven employee across the street from the Relax Inn said the crime rate in the area hasn't increased.

Mitchell's experience at the Travelodge Motel last month was much different. He says he "was shocked to see one of the tenants of the motel sitting in front with a rolled dollar bill about to snort drugs. Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well. As I was getting ready to call 911 because he was about to go unconscious, a drug dealer told me to mind my own business. I was told to ‘get the f--- out, or I’ll beat the s--- out of you.’ That was my cue to leave.”

"Our children shouldn’t have to see things like this, and yes, it is wrong," Marie told me on October 23. "When I see things like that, I get on my phone and report it. The city of El Cajon is amazing at responding to requests through the site." Marie speaks of the Requests and Issues portion of the city Of El Cajon website, which is like the city of San Diego's Get It Done app. Marie says the El Cajon Requests and Issues is better for those who live there. "Any time I’ve gone on and used it, the city responded within 24 hours and followed up."

Marie lives between the Travelodge Motel and Relax Inn and Suites, less than a mile apart and both on West Main Street. She requested we solely address her by Marie, as she recently reported a half-naked man urinating in public view by their house.

She continued, "If you report these incidents, it gets back to our local law enforcement on where and what areas they need to focus their efforts with the homeless population." The city of El Cajon implementing the Requests and Issues interface onto their site is a factor in the increase of calls for service numbers mentioned earlier in the article.

On October 23, I hopped onto the CrimeMapping site to check the crime stats surrounding the two motels mentioned above. While the crimes reported and posted on the CrimeMapping site do not divulge the exact address of the crimes committed and reported, the site does state nearby proximity via city blocks. The site is used by our countywide law enforcement personnel.

In the last four weeks, five crimes were listed on the CrimeMapping site within three blocks of the Travelodge Motel, where West Main Street and El Cajon Boulevard merge. On October 6, a commercial burglary report was made, and on October 4, a vehicle break-in/theft report was made. On September 29, two separate possessions of controlled substances reports were made, and a fraud report was made the day before.

About .75 miles to the west at Relax Inn and Suites by where West Main Street goes under the I-8 freeway, more crimes occurred within three blocks compared to the previous motel. On October 19, a crime report was made of a person drunk in public with alcohol, drugs, or both – or toluene, which involves inhaling paint thinners, paints, glues, cleaning products, and/or adhesives. Most other crimes reported here were drug-related, except for an assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and/or firefighter on the 1100 block of West Main Street on September 28.

The tenants of the motels accepting homeless vouchers aren't connected by the website to any of the crimes mentioned above, as CrimeMapping doesn't tie the crimes to a specific police report. Notwithstanding, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells wasn't happy with the County of San Diego when he learned of the vouchers. “It is very frustrating that the county never bothered to let us know about using of El Cajon’s motels as homeless shelters," Wells said in a statement last month. "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?”

While some homeless advocates online are content with the homeless voucher program working and putting roofs over people's heads, they say to solve homelessness, there needs to be follow-up. "Last weekend was cold and raining," F.M. said online. "Often shelter is offered to get out of the storm to many people across the county. Is this wrong to treat people humanely? All too often, they provide the housing or shelter to many and pat themselves on their back. A lack of continuum of care or follow thru is seen routinely. In helping those who need immediate shelter in inclement weather, we show how to be humane. In closing our doors, we become part of the problem."

Marie is a single mother living paycheck to paycheck. "There needs to be more programs for those who are actually working and struggling to provide for their families because it isn’t fair to people like myself and others that have to struggle and yet the homeless have food to eat, a paid-for place to live, and the number of homeless is increasing."

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City manager Graham Mitchell visited the Travelodge: "Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well."
City manager Graham Mitchell visited the Travelodge: "Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well."

So far this past year, the El Cajon's Police Department responded to 7,379 calls for service related to homelessness which is a "massive jump compared to approximately 2,500 calls in 2014," posted the city of El Cajon's Facebook page last week.

Part of the reason for the near triple uptick in these calls is because the motels in their city are taking in homeless motel vouchers, said city manager Graham Mitchell last month. “Not only did we notice an increase in crime and need for medical responses around some of these motels, [but] our police officers started noticing new homeless individuals, along with drug dealers who prey on them and open drug use."

Two motels, Relax Inn and Suites at 1220 West Main Street and Travelodge Motel at 425 West Main Street, were 100 percent occupied by people with homeless motel vouchers. There were five additional motels with a high percentage of rooms paid for with homeless motel vouchers. Mitchell said most of the vouchers were issued by one of the San Diego County contractors—Equus and Public Consulting Group.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Last month, I drove to Relax Inn and Suites and didn't see anything happening out of the ordinary in the parking lot, which is shared with Denny's. Then I spoke to a 7-Eleven employee, who said the crime rate in the area hasn't increased since the motel across the street took in homeless motel vouchers for all of their rooms.

A 7-Eleven employee across the street from the Relax Inn said the crime rate in the area hasn't increased.

Mitchell's experience at the Travelodge Motel last month was much different. He says he "was shocked to see one of the tenants of the motel sitting in front with a rolled dollar bill about to snort drugs. Another man was coming off Fentanyl; he did not look well. As I was getting ready to call 911 because he was about to go unconscious, a drug dealer told me to mind my own business. I was told to ‘get the f--- out, or I’ll beat the s--- out of you.’ That was my cue to leave.”

"Our children shouldn’t have to see things like this, and yes, it is wrong," Marie told me on October 23. "When I see things like that, I get on my phone and report it. The city of El Cajon is amazing at responding to requests through the site." Marie speaks of the Requests and Issues portion of the city Of El Cajon website, which is like the city of San Diego's Get It Done app. Marie says the El Cajon Requests and Issues is better for those who live there. "Any time I’ve gone on and used it, the city responded within 24 hours and followed up."

Marie lives between the Travelodge Motel and Relax Inn and Suites, less than a mile apart and both on West Main Street. She requested we solely address her by Marie, as she recently reported a half-naked man urinating in public view by their house.

She continued, "If you report these incidents, it gets back to our local law enforcement on where and what areas they need to focus their efforts with the homeless population." The city of El Cajon implementing the Requests and Issues interface onto their site is a factor in the increase of calls for service numbers mentioned earlier in the article.

On October 23, I hopped onto the CrimeMapping site to check the crime stats surrounding the two motels mentioned above. While the crimes reported and posted on the CrimeMapping site do not divulge the exact address of the crimes committed and reported, the site does state nearby proximity via city blocks. The site is used by our countywide law enforcement personnel.

In the last four weeks, five crimes were listed on the CrimeMapping site within three blocks of the Travelodge Motel, where West Main Street and El Cajon Boulevard merge. On October 6, a commercial burglary report was made, and on October 4, a vehicle break-in/theft report was made. On September 29, two separate possessions of controlled substances reports were made, and a fraud report was made the day before.

About .75 miles to the west at Relax Inn and Suites by where West Main Street goes under the I-8 freeway, more crimes occurred within three blocks compared to the previous motel. On October 19, a crime report was made of a person drunk in public with alcohol, drugs, or both – or toluene, which involves inhaling paint thinners, paints, glues, cleaning products, and/or adhesives. Most other crimes reported here were drug-related, except for an assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and/or firefighter on the 1100 block of West Main Street on September 28.

The tenants of the motels accepting homeless vouchers aren't connected by the website to any of the crimes mentioned above, as CrimeMapping doesn't tie the crimes to a specific police report. Notwithstanding, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells wasn't happy with the County of San Diego when he learned of the vouchers. “It is very frustrating that the county never bothered to let us know about using of El Cajon’s motels as homeless shelters," Wells said in a statement last month. "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?”

While some homeless advocates online are content with the homeless voucher program working and putting roofs over people's heads, they say to solve homelessness, there needs to be follow-up. "Last weekend was cold and raining," F.M. said online. "Often shelter is offered to get out of the storm to many people across the county. Is this wrong to treat people humanely? All too often, they provide the housing or shelter to many and pat themselves on their back. A lack of continuum of care or follow thru is seen routinely. In helping those who need immediate shelter in inclement weather, we show how to be humane. In closing our doors, we become part of the problem."

Marie is a single mother living paycheck to paycheck. "There needs to be more programs for those who are actually working and struggling to provide for their families because it isn’t fair to people like myself and others that have to struggle and yet the homeless have food to eat, a paid-for place to live, and the number of homeless is increasing."

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