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Housing Commission Starts Voucher Program To Get Homeless Off Streets

The San Diego Housing Commission announced today it is seeking proposals from social service agencies to participate in a program that is expected to take 150 downtown homeless off the streets by the end of this year.

Vouchers worth $10,000 each, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be issued to agencies with the best proposals, said the commission's Maria Velasquez.

The concept is to create partnerships with nonprofits so that the homeless can get a place to live plus the services needed to be successful off the streets.

"We know from HUD's experience elsewhere in the country and our own recent experience that these housing vouchers can make a profound difference in helping people rebuild their lives,'' said Rick Gentry, president and CEO of the commission, a quasi-independent city agency.

He said 25 vouchers previously awarded to the organizers of a program called "Project 25,'' including the United Way of San Diego County, took 25 chronically homeless people off the streets, saving taxpayers more than $7 million between 2010 and 2011.

The San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless, in its annual count, identified 1,122 homeless individuals in Central San Diego, mostly in the downtown area. The countywide total of 9,641 was up 6.9 percent from 2011.

Applications are due Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. at the commission office at 1122 Broadway, Suite 300, Velasquez said. She said the winning proposals might be selected next month.

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