San Diego Councilman Ward: Discharged Homeless Patients Need More Places To Recover
Recuperative care facilities offer sick or injured homeless people a safe and healing place to go after they are discharged from the hospital. But in San Diego County, the facilities are almost nonexistent, said San Diego Councilman Chris Ward, who gathered with other community leaders in Hillcrest to urge action.
“Communities throughout San Diego County are in desperate need for these facilities and systems that are equipped to meet the level of care for some of these homeless individuals,” Ward said.
Ward said countywide, there are 73 recuperative care beds for the region’s nearly 10,000 homeless people.
“The homeless population in San Diego County is aging,” Ward said. “Over 35 percent and rising of the county’s unsheltered population are age 55 or older. Much of the same population is struggling with debilitating chronic health conditions.”
According to data from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, 43 percent of homeless people in the county suffers from a mental or physical illness.
“So if you do the quick math and you understand how big the need is and then you align that with the fact that we only have 73 recuperative care beds in the entire county — you can tell the glaring gap for this needed program."
Ward was joined by Interfaith Community Services CEO Greg Anglea, Benjamin Nicholls of the Hillcrest Business Association and former assemblyman and current county supervisor candidate Nathan Fletcher. They stood in front of an abandoned county-owned building on a multi-acre lot overgrown with weeds. Ward said the site is an example of a perfect opportunity.
“It’s been shuttered for close to 10 years,” Ward said. “Why not take some of the excess property that we have now, rehabilitate it, get it up and running and used for a clear and present need like recuperative care.”
He said the facilities could be modeled after Interfaith Community Services recuperative care unit that opened three years ago in North County.
“Our 32 bed recuperative care facility in Escondido has helped more than 300 veteran men and women, civilian men and women, address the underlying health condition that landed them in a hospital and move out of our facility to stable housing,” said Interfaith Community Services' Anglea.
“The reason is simple," Anglea explained. "When people find themselves hospitalized, they’re in a moment of change. They can address their underlying health condition, work with a social worker to create a game plan to improve self-sufficiency, and move on into stable housing.”
Ward suggested funding for the facilities could be drawn from the $32 million in state funds that the region is receiving to address the homeless crisis.
“There’s nowhere for these people to go,” Ward said. “It’s heartbreaking but it’s also putting them right back into vulnerable situations and probably going to destine them to have to go right back to the ER when a health condition gets worse again.”