San Diego's homelessness activists say they're finally seeing more money to put toward the many problems on the streets.
Their big concern now is where, and how best to spend it.
This region has the nation's fourth largest homeless population – nearly 9,000 documented and 17,000 estimated, spread far beyond San Diego.
"This is not just a problem that has a dollars-and-cents cost, this is a human suffering cost,” said Lisa Halverstadt, who has reported extensively on homelessness issues for NBC 7’s media partner, Voice of San Diego.
“There are people suffering on our streets, and people in the community are seeing that,” Halverstadt added during Friday’s recording session for Sunday’s edition of Politically Speaking. “And I really believe they want action immediately."
There are encouraging signs that San Diego's homeless are a growing priority, as business leaders and nonprofit organizations pursue initiatives for emergency care and services.
The city is looking to open a central intake facility, and add hundreds of shelter beds.
The county is working to identify "surplus" property that could go toward housing.
And there’s increasing emphasis on investing in long-term solutions, collaborative approaches that maximize forces and resources.
Father Joe's Villages, as NBC 7 reported Thursday, is planning a half-billion dollars' worth of affordable housing – more than 2,000 new units, many of them in revamped motels.
“There’s plenty of money that’s coming into this, plenty of interest,” said attorney Tom Theisen, former chairman of the regional task force on homelessness. “But we need to avoid sort of getting into this competition where we do a lot of half-baked ideas, and we don’t do a coordinated, well-focused effort.”
Besides money and coordination, the other watchword recognized in all this is leadership.
"The cost of doing something is far less than the cost of doing nothing,” said Bob McElroy, founder and CEO of the Alpha Project, who has devoted three decades to addressing homelessness.
“But somebody needs to stand up and say 'Let's go do this thing -- let's do it now. That's what I'm hopeful for."