With more than 1,300 homeless veterans living on San Diego’s streets, the city clearly has a problem helping those who already gave up so much.
Homeless experts say San Diego is falling behind other cities in calling on landlords to rent to homeless veterans. There are plenty of rental subsidies, according to experts, but not enough landlords willing to rent to homeless people.
Thursday evening during his State of the City address Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the ‘Housing our Heroes’ initiative, which takes aim at that problem – calling on landlords to rent to homeless veterans.
Sean Sheppard, the founder of Embrace, an organization that works with homeless veterans, told NBC 7 many of those he helps never had the problems that contributed to their homelessness before they enlisted.
“So, with that being the case, serving our country helped contribute to them being homeless. Our government, our society owes it to those individuals who took that step to give up their lives for this country,” Sheppard said.
After serving in Iraq, Eddie Rivers spent seven years as a homeless veteran until he finally found his way ‘out of the rain’ as he puts it.
“The feelings of despair is almost impossible to describe to you,” Rivers explained of his time living on the streets. “I can vividly remember nights of praying not to wake up the next day: just a simple prayer, ‘God, if I could just not wake up tomorrow, that would be okay with me.’”
NBC 7 contacted the mayor’s staff for more details on his plan, but were directed to the Housing Commission, a quasi-government agency that receives around $235 million annually in public funds to address homeless issues.
The Housing Commission said they plan to do landlord outreach. Veterans still living on the streets told NBC 7 they’ll believe it when they see changes.