SAN DIEGO -- Homelessness and lack of housing were front and center as Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivered his sixth and final State of the City address Wednesday.
He addressed the statewide housing crisis and how he intends to leave San Diego with a framework of innovative solutions to tackle that challenge as he prepares to leave office after the November election.
Faulconer plans to finish his term by seeking council approval this spring for a new housing reform -- a program to build more homes, invest in existing communities and turn his One San Diego pledge into city policy.
The last five years have seen the largest expansion in homeless services in San Diego's history. The city has also adopted housing reforms, climate action plans and directed billions of dollars toward street and neighborhood improvements.
Despite the fact that San Diego has one of the largest existing homeless populations in the country, the overall numbers of those experiencing homelessness in the region did drop in 2019.
Faulconer credited the decline in homelessness to great expansion in homeless shelters and services, safe parking lots and storage centers.
The year of 2020 will also see improvements in mental health resources for the city, with Faulconer announcing the deployment of mental health teams to the city’s shelters and opening up the city’s first public/private shelter specifically working with mental health.
"These actions will provide a powerful resource for emergency first responders, reassurance for families afraid to walk certain streets, a beacon of hope for troubled souls, and proof that San Diego is acknowledging the reality of homelessness and ready to lead on mental health," said Faulconer.
Last year, Faulconer took a similar tack toward the housing crisis, describing plans to eliminate building height limits, eliminate parking requirements and authorize unlimited housing density provided that developments include affordable housing and housing for homeless residents.
Still, a chasm between residents and the affordable housing supply means there is much work to be done. The San Diego Housing Commission has a 10- year wait on its Section 8 Housing list, and hundreds more are added to the list monthly.