Housing Commission Votes To Move $6.5M In Funding Away From Permanent Housing

Friday, November 3, 2017
By Matt Hoffman
Credit: Katie Schoolov/KPBS
Above: San Diego Housing Commission logo displayed on a wall inside the Commission's downtown headquarters, Nov. 3, 2017.

Temporary shelters set to begin construction next month may have found their funding.

“We needed to move, and we could move pretty quickly using our own funding," said San Diego Housing Commission President and CEO Rick Gentry. "So we did move quickly.”

The commission's board voted unanimously Friday to move $6.5 million dollars away from the Housing First program, a permanent housing program, to fund the operation of the temporary tent shelters for six months.

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"We made the decision that the more immediate problem was the public health issue," said Gentry, referring to San Diego County's hepatitis A outbreak which has infected at least 536 people. "The need to help people get off the streets on a temporary basis, but not to lose sight of the long-term solutions as well. That’s why these tents if they are going to be successful, they cannot be just static repositories for poor people."

The San Diego City Council will vote to approve the $6.5 million funding move on November 14.

"Then we have an option to renew for a year," said Gentry, who expects the tents to be open around two years. "A housing commissions option, which would obviously be 12 months versus seven. It’d be more than $6.5, could be like $10 or $12 (million).”