SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Mayors from across the San Diego region met Monday morning to brainstorm ways to combat the homeless crisis in the area.

The hope is that the group can come up with a “more strategic” strategy to tackle the issue, rather than attacking it as individual cities.

“This is not a downtown San Diego problem anymore, this is county-wide,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria Monday. “It’s the number one issue and we all need to rise to the occasion.” 

The San Diego Rescue Mission and The Lucky Duck Foundation invited 18 mayors to the gathering. The biggest challenge the group said they face in housing unsheltered individuals: extreme mental health and substance abuse issues. 

“Things that cities are not well equipped for,” said Mayor Gloria. “None of us have a mental health department. None of us have a behavioral health unit.”

That’s why San Diego and the county overall have endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Care Court Proposal, which would allocate funds to require counties to provide comprehensive treatment to the most severely impaired. 

“My hope is it will provide very soon all of us want to address this humanitarian crisis that is homelessness, but we don’t necessarily have the tools to do it in the state can authorize these tools.”

Another component is learning and sharing what’s working in other cities. In Carlsbad, officials worked to find a new and simple way to deal with the trash left behind by people living on city streets.

“One of the things we must deal with is the trash in and around the homeless,” said Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall. “They’re paying two dollars for every trash bag full of trash, and I thought, ‘wow, how much money do we spend picking up all that trash? Here’s a way to get the homeless to be a part of the solution. Something that simple!’” 

The mayors say they will continue to work on solutions and begin to meet more frequently in the meantime.