San Diego reveals three-year plan to help homeless

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The City of San Diego is finally putting some serious money toward permanent housing for the homeless.

It’s part of a new three-year plan to get 1,500 homeless people off the streets, and into housing that includes support services.

Up until now the city has concentrated on supportive services, and temporary shelters.

The focus now changed to permanent housing first, then follow up with support services.

This is the first plan that has a broad coalition of support including the business community which has long been opposed to a myriad of previous plans to end homelessness, mostly because those plans were transitional, not permanent.

“Over the next three years the San Diego Housing Commission will award up to $30-million to create permanent supportive housing units for homeless individuals and families,” said Mayor Faulconer.

$17 million will be spent to renovate the old Churchill Hotel on C. Street to provide 72 unites of permanent housing for veterans.

Another $15 million of federal dollars will be used to acquire more than 100 units, 20% of which will be permanent.

Then there are vouchers, 1,500 of them.

“These vouchers will provide much needed rental assistance for low income tenants with incomes below $33,000 a year, per person,” said Council President, Todd Gloria.

And the housing commission will set aside 25 units of affordable housing for temporary housing for the homeless.

“These Housing Commission units located throughout the city of San Diego will be used for this effort beginning January 1, 2015,” said Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry.

This housing first plan, followed up with support services, is working in other cities, and there is no reason it will not work in San Diego.

“All of us know the housing first approach is the right path forward, and we recently received a major vote of confidence from the state with an award of one million dollars to the housing commission,” said the mayor.

When asked why it took so long to embrace this approach housing, Genty said yesterday’s solutions do not fit today’s problems.

“One of the things we have to do is continue to morph and change our traditional programs to fit changing conditions and circumstances,” said Genty.

“First time in 28 years they’re putting the money where their mouth is. I think this is the first time we’ve had a coming together, the political will is all there,” said Bob McElroy.

Bob McElroy knows more about the homeless than anybody in the city as head of the Alpha Project which operates the winter shelter.

“Having folks inside with their own place, their own responsibility and access to all the services there, so they’re not traversing the neighborhoods trying to go to their medical appointments, doctors appointments, counselors appointments, its all here,” he said.

McElroy estimates over five years, the plan will save taxpayers $25 million that is eaten up by the homeless in emergency room visits, and police expenses alone.

While renovation of the Churchill Hotel is underway, another 203 permanent housing units for the homeless is under construction at 14th and Market.

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