A 9-year-old girl discovered living in a backyard tool shed in Lakeside had been living there for about three weeks according to Sheriff’s Deputies. Her uncle, Ted Tavolazzi, said the girl was only in there for three days.
Tavolazzi said her mother had dropped her off at the home with her dad.
“My brother didn't have a place to stay,” Tavolazzi said. “That’s the only place he could keep her was with him in the backyard, she had a good place to live, a bed there, everything."
Deputies made the discovery during a probation check, which ended with eight adults under arrest.
Investigators say the bed was actually an old dirty couch. The small space had no plumbing and a single electrical outlet for a lamp. Deputies also found two guns and eight grams of meth inside as well.
"Oh I would consider that being homeless because there is no water, no toilets,” Karen Keith of the San Diego Rescue Mission said.
Keith runs the San Diego Rescue Mission emergency shelter for families. The recently renovated space fills up every night with more than 70 people, including an average of 20 to 30 kids.
"They want their kids with them but they're not focused on their children,” Keith said. “They're more focused on themselves and where to find housing and stuff like that, and the children are still neglected and the children are already developing mental illness at an early age because they're so withdrawn."
Deputies said the nine-year-old in this case appeared well nourished, content and articulate.
Sadly her circumstances highlight a gray area of homelessness, which according to Keith is more common in our county than most people think.
“Here they are sleeping in a tent in the riverbed, or sleeping in an alley, or staying at a McDonalds 24-7 trying to find a 24-7 place to have a warm place to be,” Keith told NBC 7.
In the girl’s situation it was a filthy property described by neighbors as a well-known drug house.
Investigators told NBC 7 they've had 14 calls for service over the past year - mostly noise and disturbance complaints.
The girl is currently being held at the Polinsky Center.
Court records show more than a dozen cases over the past two decades tied to Joe Tavolazzi,the girl’s father, including criminal and civil cases dealing with lack of child support and domestic violence.
He will be arraigned on Monday on four felony charges including child endangerment.