City Councilmembers held a special meeting Monday to address the growing crisis of homelessness in San Diego.
The San Diego City Council listened to reports from organizations across the region in their search for a permanent solution to homelessness. It was held at 1 p.m. in the Golden Hall building, on the 200 block of C Street.
San Diego State University (SDSU), the Mayor's office, the County of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission all presented a series of reports at the special City Council session.
These presentations examined data collected on the homeless population in San Diego, considering their specific characteristics.
"This issue is a priority for this City Council. We need to work together and act with urgency," said Myrtle Cole, President of the San Diego City Council, at the meeting.
Cole said San Diego has one of the largest homeless populations in the country, and that this is one of the first City Council meetings she's seen addressing the issue collectively.
Dr. Sue Lindsay, an Epidemiology and Biostatistics Associate Professor at SDSU, presented information on San Diego's Homeless System of Care.
Lindsay said there are 50 agencies, 220 programs and 450 users of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) in San Diego's Homeless System of Care. She pointed out that San Diego County has received more than 17,000 requests from homeless people for entry services in the last fiscal year.
It's not likely the City will find affordable, permanent housing for the entire, large population of homeless people, said Lindsay. She called the significant recidivism 'unsustainable,' and emphasized the need for more affordable housing.
The lack of preventative or diversion programs to prevent people from ending up in the street in the first place is lacking in the region, said Lindsay.
She added that 36 percent of homeless people enter the System of Care more than once, and 12 percent of clients re-enter after previous placements in permanent housing, showing an alarming trend of recidivism.
More resources, vouchers of subsidies for longer periods of time, job assistance and client services to help maintain their placement in housing would help the issue, said Lyndsay.
“We need clear, sustainable, swift solutions to reduce the number of people living on our streets," said Stacey Spector, Senior Advisor for Housing Solutions for the City of San Diego.
Factors impacting the homelessness crisis in the San Diego region include earlier recessions that many have not recovered from, elimination of redevelopment funds, spending of greater portion of income on housing, low apartment vacancy rates driving up rent, loss of single resident occupancy hotels and low federal funding for the San Diego region, said Spector.
Although San Diego is fourth in the nation when it comes to homelessness, we are 22nd in the nation for federal funding to address the issue, said Spector.
"We must push ourselves to do more today, everyday, but we have to do it together," said Spector.
Some proposed short term initiatives included adding immediate temporary beds, renovations at the Neil Good Day Center, expanding the SMART Pilot, enhancing the Family Reunification Program, establishing a 24/7 hotline for bed availability and expanding Housing Our Heroes.