Encinitas council OKs plan to link homeless residents to housing, health care

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ENCINITAS, Calif – Encinitas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a long sought-after plan to connect some of its most vulnerable residents to housing and health care options in a bid to address the symptoms of homelessness.

The city’s Homeless Action Plan is the result of a process that began in October 2019 to better understand the needs of the homeless population. It lays out a “community driven approach” to utilize available resources to reduce the number of people without housing while increasing short-term and permanent housing options, the plan shows.

All members of council, including Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz — who opposed the Safe Overnight Homeless Parking Program last year — were in support of the plan and its recommendations.

Drafted in conjunction with San Diego-based consulting firm LeSar Development Consultants, the plan has three primary goals for the city in the coming years. They are:

  • Ending homelessness through a collaborative, community driven approach;
  • Decreasing the number of people experiencing homelessness with a “demand-driven, person-based” response; and
  • Increasing availability of interim and permanent housing.

All three goals include a list of action plans, including two paid city positions and expanding safe parking programs.

It was approved following a contentious public comment session, during which some residents argued that the plan ultimately would attract more homeless people to the community. With 80 unhoused people in the city as of a January 2020 count, opponents say existing programs aren’t being fully utilized.

“The City seems to gravitate towards never-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste theory, and if there isn’t a crisis, they create one; this time it’s homelessness,” Encinitas resident Cindy Cremona said.

But supporters say action is, in fact, needed, and those experiencing homelessness need more help.

“Whether you or city council thinks homelessness is a very small problem or a very big problem we still need a plan,” Encinitas resident Bob Ayers said.

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