San Diego

Mayor Faulconer Unveils $80 Million Plan to Address San Diego's Homeless Crisis

The latest numbers show more than 9,100 homeless individuals reside in San Diego County

Under increasing pressure from the community, Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his $80 million plan to address San Diego's expanding homeless problem Wednesday.

San Diego's housing problem is now being called a crisis, with entire city blocks turned into encampments downtown. Faulconer's plan starts with setting $50 million aside to create permanent housing for the homeless.

NBC 7 spoke with the president and CEO of Alpha Project, Bob McElroy, who has been serving the homeless in San Diego through his organization for more than 30 years. McElcroy said the problem is the worst it's ever been.

"I've never seen, you know, many times when this was a warehouse district, homeless folks were kind of a hidden little secret, a dirty little secret," said McElroy.

The latest numbers show more than 9,100 homeless individuals reside in San Diego County, with nearly 30 percent more people sleeping on downtown streets over the past year.

"But now it's just blatant, all over the streets, all over the sidewalks. Because we don't have a central intake facility. We don't have a place for people to go. There's no alternative right now to being homeless," said McElroy.

Nearly six months after calling homelessness his administration's top priority, Faulconer unveiled his three-year strategic plan.

"We all know the best way to start ending the cycle of homelessness for some is putting a roof over their head," said Faulconer.

"Particularly for those suffering with mental health and mental illness issues. So the fact that we're targeting that population with significant additional dollars, I think it's going to make a huge difference," he added.

The program offers financial incentives to private landlords who rent to homeless individuals in San Diego.

City leaders have called this strategy a tried-and-tested model. This has already housed 800 veterans in a similar initiative.

City officials said they do not expect the private sector entrepreneurs to lose money on social programs. The goal is to help private landlords make money, while also solving the homeless crisis.

McElroy said he is optimistic to see so many different players finally working together to solve this problem in San Diego.

"I've stood at hundreds of press conferences over the decades," said McElroy. "But to see all the different parties that used to work separately, all working together now, it has to happen."

Altogether, the plan will create permanent housing opportunities for 3,000 people. Implementing the plan will likely be the most challenging part for the city.

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