October 27, 2020
Citywide Program to Transform Outreach to San Diegans Experiencing Homelessness Receives Approval
City Council also receives first-year update on Community Action Plan on Homelessness and approves strategies to preserve affordable housing
SAN DIEGO, CA—A new approach for reaching out to San Diegans experiencing homelessness to help connect them to services and housing resources in a client-centered, housing-focused way was approved today by the San Diego City Council.
“San Diego’s Neighborhood Policing Division has done a phenomenal job in recent years to fill the gap in connecting with San Diegans living in unsafe, unsanitary conditions on our streets and getting them the help they need, but we’ve always recognized the need for more non-law enforcement outreach teams. San Diego continues to lead the way with innovative solutions that have reduced homelessness in our region two years in a row and this new outreach program is how we keep building on the momentum we’ve made for years to come,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said.
The new Coordinated Street Outreach Program addresses gaps in the existing system while leveraging and enhancing outreach resources citywide, building upon a pilot program that started in the Mid-City area.
“Today, the City Council took a big step forward in how we create meaningful relationships with residents living on the streets and connect them with permanent homes and the services they need to stay housed,” said City Council President Georgette Gómez. “We’ve seen from our pilot project in Mid-City that this model – using case managers rather police officers to establish trust with vulnerable residents – really works. This program is a critical piece of our much-improved and better-coordinated effort to reduce the number of unsheltered San Diegans.”
The Mayor and City Council previously agreed to set aside $1.5 million from the City of San Diego’s Homeless Strategies Department General Fund budget to support the new outreach program.
“As chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods, I advocated for this $1.5 million for a more strategic and holistic outreach approach to the unsheltered,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe. “As policymakers, we must think ‘people-first’ as we address gaps in the existing system and deploy outreach resources in alignment with the goals of the City’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness.”
The program supports the City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness, which the City Council accepted on October 14, 2019. The plan identified the development of a more effective, coordinated outreach framework as a “key item for consideration.”
“Our Mid-City Outreach Pilot Program has proven that outreach that focuses on relationship building, trust, and community involvement yields the best outcomes for people experiencing homelessness,” said City Councilmember Chris Ward, the immediate past Chair of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. “PATH San Diego’s client-focused, service-centered approach to outreach has worked in other parts of our region and will best serve the unique needs of all San Diego’s neighborhoods.”
The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) will contract with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) San Diego to operate the Coordinated Street Outreach Program. SDHC will also hire an Outreach Coordinator to provide direction and support to the program.
“This type of outreach is a crucial first step to helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness on their path from the streets to permanent or longer-term housing,” SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said. “My thanks to the Mayor and City Council for their commitment to this program as part of the comprehensive strategy to address the homelessness crisis in the City of San Diego.”
PATH worked with Council President Gómez and Councilmember Ward on the Mid-City pilot program and has extensive experience as a homeless service provider.
The new Coordinated Street Outreach Program will implement a neighborhood-based approach, which involves a tailored response based on the unique needs and demographics of the community’s unsheltered population. This approach also includes proactive contacts with local residents, business owners and civic organizations.
The Coordinated Street Outreach Program will consist of two main service elements: a Rapid Response Team and a Mobile Homelessness Response Team. The Rapid Response Team will focus in areas with known concentrations of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness and provide immediate intervention and problem-solving resources while working to improve the individual’s sense of safety and helping to meet their basic needs.
The Mobile Homelessness Response Team will provide intensive street-based case management, prioritizing interactions with individuals who are among the City’s most vulnerable. This team will also work to identify individuals who may already be connected to a housing resource and are on a localized list developed in collaboration with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH). This team’s efforts will help individuals address any barriers to getting housing, such as obtaining identification, accessing primary care and seeking employment resources.
The program will operate seven days a week, except for City-observed holidays. The program will run from November 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, and SDHC will have the option to renew the program with PATH for another year—July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, based on the City Council’s approvals today.
Additional City Council actions today included:
- Community Action Plan on Homelessness First-Year Update: The Interagency Implementation Team presented first-year accomplishments of the Community Action Plan, including:
- Double-digit decreases in overall unsheltered homelessness and unsheltered homelessness among veterans and youth.
- Creation of the RTFH Ad Hoc Committee on Addressing Homelessness Among Black San Diegans and the RTFH Youth Action Board.
- Implementation of the City of San Diego COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help prevent housing displacement.
- Creation of additional housing with supportive services through SDHC’s release of a notice of funds available to support development and SDHC’s purchase of two hotels.
- Implementation Strategy for Affordable Housing Preservation: The City Council approved seven actions to implement a strategy for affordable housing preservation in the City of San Diego. The purpose of affordable housing preservation is to address the homelessness and housing affordability crises in the City of San Diego. These actions were part of SDHC’s report, “Preserving Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego,” which the City Council accepted on June 2, 2020.
Ashley Bailey, Office of Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, 619-392-0686; [email protected]
David Rolland, Office of Council President Georgette Gómez, 619-533-5897; [email protected]
Scott Marshall, San Diego Housing Commission, (619) 578-7138; [email protected]