SAN DIEGO — While the city of San Diego’s next fiscal year budget heavily focuses on infrastructure improvements, on the mind of many San Diegans is the persistent issue of homelessness.
“While I am unhappy with our current state of affairs on our streets and sidewalks, it could be infinitely worse. This budget will make it way better,” Mayor Todd Gloria said.
Gloria announced more than $60 million in the city’s proposed budget would be directed toward fighting homelessness. More than $4 million of that would go to address homeless encampments and nearly $14 million to address shelter capacity, services and outreach.
Homeless advocates have been critical of the city’s efforts, including permanent housing, which is something the mayor also touched on.
“We will increase the amount of shelter beds that we have and increase the amount of permanent supportive housing beds that we have. We make the individual contact on the street, we get them into shelter and then we graduate them into permanent housing. That is how you end homelessness,” Gloria said.
This week, East Village saw several rounds of street cleanup, attempting to offer services to the homeless population and clear the area ahead of the home opener for the Padres.
Gloria says San Diego still needs help from the county to partner on new shelters with and from the state, more assistance with behavioral health reform.
Meanwhile from the federal government, Gloria says rental assistance during the pandemic was pivotal.
“Paying back rent that San Diegans were not able to afford has prevented 16,000 San Diego families from becoming homeless, so as bad as the situation is, it could be dramatically worse.”
Gloria mentioned a new 125-bed shelter opening soon in the Midway District, a new 40-bed facility for women downtown and a few more projects on the way the city hopes to announce soon.