The City of Oceanside voted Wednesday to take action against what city leaders and citizens are calling a homelessness crisis.
Residents have been coming in droves to city council meetings to complain about the homeless living openly in the streets, and in more clandestine communities like along the San Luis Rey riverbed.
An NBC 7 crew positioned on the sidewalk of Airport Drive spotted several sleeping homeless in the riverbed brush. Drone Ranger flew over the natural space and spotted multiple tent clusters and oil drums used for campfires.
"It's a city down there,” one citizen said. “Almost totally devoid of law enforcement. Drugs, prostitution and theft are running rampant."
Some people living along the riverbed said waitlists for shelters are too long. Others said they aren’t interested in temporary housing at all.
Citizen after citizen pleaded at the meeting for city leaders to take action. The City Council heard the complaints and voted unanimously to declare a shelter crisis, which will allow it to apply for the state’s half-billion-dollar Homeless Emergency Aid Program.
If it’s awarded to the city, funding could help it expand its homeless outreach program and establish new ones that can help transients find housing and get mental healthcare if needed.
Some citizens say a shelter would only be a band-aid and will worsen the situation in the long run.
"There's many heads to this snake and a homeless shelter is not the solution for that mindset,” a speaker said. “As much as I hate to say it, it's probably going to make the problem worse in Oceanside."
City officials said they would find out if Oceanside is granted aid in January, but warned residents that it’s not the only city applying for help and could be passed up.