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San Diego Launches Plan To Get 1,500 Homeless People Off The Streets

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Ricky Leong, flickr

Side view of the Churchill Hotel in downtown San Diego.

The San Diego Housing Commission Wednesday announced a three-year plan to get 1,500 homeless people off the streets through a combination of property renovations and providing homes that include access to social services.

Provisions of the "Housing First-San Diego" plan include:

  • renovating an abandoned hotel structure to provide 72 affordable units for homeless veterans and youth who have aged out of the foster care system;
  • combining up to $30 million of federal and state grants, and local funds, to create housing in combination with supportive services;
  • providing as many as 1,500 federal rental assistance vouchers to homeless individuals and families;
  • investing $15 million to acquire a property where 20 percent of its more than 100 units will be set aside for permanent supportive housing for homeless San Diegans; and
  • dedicating 25 commissioned-own units for temporary use by homeless individuals and families.

"The goal is to help our homeless San Diegans get back on their feet and move on to renting an apartment of their own," said Richard Gentry, the commission's president and CEO.

Work began in summer of 2014 on the site of the former Hotel Churchill, which had been abandoned for a decade on the corner of Ninth and C streets in downtown San Diego. City officials expect the $17 million project to be completed in February 2016.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will provide on-site social services and case management to former armed forces members, according to the Housing Commission.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the hotel project is a "great example of what we can achieve when we all work together and look at new ways to solve a problem."

City Council President Todd Gloria said, "This is what we call the 'housing first' model. It's about providing homeless San Diegans a roof over their heads, and once they're in that safe space, help them rebuild their lives." Part of that rebuild gets people into a residential environment where issues such as mental health, substance abuse or other problems can be addressed.

San Diego City Police Lt. Debra Farrar works with the Homeless Outreach Team. She said the program will help save the city money. "Project 25 is a great example. These people were causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ambulance runs, emergency room visits, police interaction and once they got supportive housing, those costs went down."

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