SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council voted Monday to approve the use of a $2.45 million state grant awarded to the city to help house people living in encampments in the downtown area.

The grant was awarded to the city through California’s Encampment Resolution Funding (ERF) Program, which gave communities across the state about $98 million in funds last year to aid cities in housing those living on the street.

“With City Council’s approval, we are excited to accept this grant funding and put it to use,” San Diego Homeless Strategies and Solutions Department director Hafsa Kaka said in a press release. “(We) will be working diligently with our outreach teams to deliver a focused approach to move people from East Village encampments into a safe environment with intensive supportive services.” 

The grant will be focused on encampments in East Village, particularly the area surrounding the Old Downtown Central Library, encompassing blocks from Broadway to F Street and 7th to 10th Avenue.

About 50 single adults currently experiencing homelessness reside in this area, according to the city. More than half of these adults are over the age of 55 and a majority are African American.

Encampments around Commercial Street were part of the original grant application, Kaka said during Monday’s city council meeting, but the scope of the funding was narrowed at the suggestion of the state during the application process given the recently announced opening of a shelter at the Old Central Library.

The bulk of the funds, $1.2 million, will be put towards housing and flexible subsidies, according to the program budget presented during the city council meeting Monday. The remainder of the funds will go towards outreach and supportive services, as well as administrative costs.

“We know what ends homelessness: outreach, shelter, housing,” Mayor Todd Gloria said in a press release on the city council approval. “This infusion of state dollars will help us address homeless encampments in a part of Downtown where they have had a major impact on quality of life.” 

San Diego was one of eight municipalities to receive money through the second round of funds last October, totaling around $48 million. The first round of ERF funds were given to nineteen other communities in early 2022.

Kaka said Monday during the city council meeting that the city should be able to officially launch the program within the next two months, barring any complications.