Gloria, state’s big city mayors ask for record-level spending to help the homeless

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is among 13 leaders from California’s biggest cities calling on state lawmakers to make a $4 billion-a-year investment over the next five years to help provide housing for the homeless.

“Understanding we can’t solve this problem in one fiscal year — but it’s going to take the repeated commitment of state and local leadership to get the job done,” Gloria said during Thursday’s virtual meeting.

The mayors are calling homelessness the biggest crisis in California, adding the state is doing a lot, but needs to do more.

A recent report from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless shows the number of first-time homeless in San Diego County was 2,326 in 2019. That number jumped to 4,152 in 2020.

Gloria touched on housing and services as being key to getting people off the streets. He highlighted Operation Shelter to Home, which began in April 2020 under former Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s administration. The center served as a temporary home to nearly 4,000 San Diegans — helping nearly 1,300 individuals and 43 families find permanent and longer-term housing — until the program ended in March.

He also noted the city’s investments in two former hotels in the Hotel Circle area and in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood, respectively. The purchases allowed for the creation of 332 permanent units for more than 400 homeless residents.

“The city of San Diego is prepared to be able to acquire more of these hotel projects, convert them into supportive permanent housing that we need to get people off the streets for good,” Gloria said.

The mayors say the money is not necessarily needed for new programs, but investing in proven strategies to help the homeless.

“To my colleagues in Sacramento who are divvying up the budget as we speak, we ask you to listen to the calls of Californians who are saying this is an urgent concern,” Gloria said.

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