SAN DIEGO — On Tuesday, San Diego leaders shared a report on how the city is progressing in its community action plan to address homelessness.
The sweeping 10-year homeless plan was unanimously adopted by the San Diego City Council back in October 2019. Its intent was to identify short-term goals, as well as serve as a guide for long-term plans to address the city’s homeless crisis.
In the update on Tuesday, however, the city said that more people are experiencing homelessness than the capacity that existing programs are able to help despite extensive efforts to expand them — a trend that the report says is made more complicated by a lack of safety nets to prevent someone from falling out of housing in the first place.
San Diego leaders have long touted that they have doubled the number of housing and crisis response options, including adding 900 shelter beds and 2,545 emergency shelter beds since 2019.
The number of permanent housing units have also more than tripled — increasing from 630 to 2,109. Permanent supporting housing has also increased by 148% from 2,599 to 6,457.
With these options, about 15,000 people each year have received assistance from the city and other programs funded by the San Diego Housing Commission, according to the city’s report, while 11,993 people moved to permanent housing.
Despite that, the number of people considered chronically or “newly” homeless has continued to rise, and unhoused people are seeing longer stays in shelters — many of which remain at or near capacity — as they wait to move into housing.
A main driver of this is a lack of tenant protection resources to keep people in the homes they have, according to the city. Experts have long heralded prevention through programs like rental and utility assistance as the most cost-effective way that a municipality can curb homelessness.
Among other key services that the city will need to improve over the next few years, according to the report, include: availability emergency shelter beds, rapid or supportive rehousing by rental subsidies, and low income housing options.
About 40% of people who recently fell into homelessness may be able resolve their situation with shelter and diversion resources, according to the city. Meanwhile, about 33% may just need prevention resources. Roughly 28% of those recently unhoused would need more intensive resources like rapid rehousing, the city said.
According to the city, 78% of those currently considered unsheltered or chronically homeless need access to permanent housing resources to stabilize their situation. About 10% may fix their housing situation with crisis response options only, while 12% may need diversion resources such as financial assistance.