City Council approves plan to spend $1.9B over 10 years on homelessness

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego City Council unanimously voted Monday to adopt a 10-year strategic plan to address homelessness and connect homeless residents with permanent housing.

The Community Action Plan on Homelessness includes short- and long- term goals to increase the city's housing supply and decrease homelessness across all demographics, but particularly among young people and veterans.

The council's affirming vote also created a leadership council composed of staff members from the city, San Diego Housing Commission and Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

The plan calls for the allocation of $1.9 billion over 10 years to achieve goals that include making 5,416 housing units available to homeless residents and providing more housing assistance services. The plan also includes three-year goals to halve the city's unsheltered homeless population and eliminate youth and military veteran homelessness.

"These initial three goals are achievable by the end of some of our terms," City Councilman Chris Ward said. "I look forward to staying on top of the actions identified. ... We will get to work on these immediately."

The RTFH's 2019 Point-In-Time Count, conducted in late January, found that the city's homeless population totaled 5,082 and represented the bulk of the county's 8,201 observed homeless residents. The task force also found that one-tenth of survey participants countywide were veterans.

Meeting the required funding could come, in part, from a March 2020 ballot measure that would raise hotel taxes to pay for an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and address homelessness and infrastructure repairs. The measure would bring in roughly $6 billion over 42 years and nearly $300 million for homelessness in the first decade.

The Corporation for Supportive Housing, which contracted with the city and the housing commission to develop the plan, identified six immediate needs to help alleviate homelessness, including increased staffing and outreach for homeless services and a decrease in legal harm for minor crimes like evading transit fares that are committed by homeless residents.

"San Diego needs thousands of permanent supportive and affordable units to house our vulnerable populations. We now have specific goals and an estimated cost, with a clear road map on how to get there," San Diego Housing Federation Executive Director Stephen Russell said.

The city and its partners are expected to start following the plan at the beginning of next year.

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