Kate Monroe navigated a section of San Diego known as the Bottoms, skillfully avoiding discarded hypodermic needles, abandoned food packaging, and human waste. The veteran of the Marine Corps and successful business owner was present to engage with the city's homeless population, aiming to reach as many as possible. Among them was a woman who shared her perspective that living on the streets of San Diego was "not that hard."
"Usually we're low income and when you're low income, you get free phones, free food, free clothing, there's so many resources that are just give and give and give," Mary said in a video Monroe shared.
"I think we're spoiled to be honest with you," Mary added. "My sister's like, 'Where do I sign up?’"
However, for many, the reality of street life is harsh and unforgiving. Monroe was privy to numerous tales of sexual assault, theft, and savage attacks. One man, stationed on a sidewalk camping chair, was visibly moved while recounting his encounter with a city councilor in the vicinity earlier that day.
"He was not talking to any of the homeless, he wasn't coming to us," he said. "He can pop a tent up right next to mine, and he can stay out here for 24 hours with us. He can see what it's like."
"This ain't easy, being out here," he continued while choking up.
Monroe heads VetComm, a San Diego-based organization that operates a nonprofit section dedicated to assisting homeless veterans secure disability benefits and transition into housing. She disclosed that her visit to the street-dwelling communities of San Diego and nearby Oceanside in May was an effort to develop a deeper comprehension of the city's homelessness crisis.
"I have witnessed what I think is some of the worst homelessness in the country," Monroe said to Fox News, adding that she has seen the deterioration firsthand since moving to San Diego 20 years ago.
According to Monroe, the inauguration of Petco Park, which hosted its inaugural San Diego Padres game in 2004, signaled a pivotal shift for the city. The gentrification of the downtown area progressively squeezed the previously dispersed homeless community into a confined area, colloquially referred to by residents as the Bottoms.
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