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At 2-Year Mark, San Diego’s Vet Housing Program Alive, Not Necessarily Growing

San Diego Housing Commission logo displayed on a wall inside the Commission's...

Credit: Katie Schoolov/KPBS

Above: San Diego Housing Commission logo displayed on a wall inside the Commission's downtown headquarters, Nov. 3, 2017.

Two years after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer created Housing Our Heroes, the program remains, though the city isn't committing to take yet another 1,000 vets off the street.

The program was announced at the mayor’s State of the City Address in 2016. The city gave itself one year and added extra resources to take 1,000 veterans off the street. It took an additional seven months, but the city eventually hit its target.

“The goal was to get 1,000 veterans off the streets, which we did and we’re continuing the program to get as many more off the streets as we can,” said Rick Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission.

By targeting veterans, the city found new methods to move other homeless populations into housing.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Rick Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission, talks about veteran housing, February 1, 2018.

“They’re living a very passive lifestyle and they’ll take the voucher and may not do anything with it," Gentry said. "Or they may not have the social skills to negotiate with a landlord.”

The city stepped in and performed some of those services for them. San Diego continues to provide the money to house the 1,000 vets promised under Housing our Heroes. Gentry estimates another 1,000 vets remain on the streets — more homeless vets than the when the city reached its goal in September. Those veterans will be helped in conjunction with the rest of the homeless population, when money becomes available.

Housing Our Heroes promised to get 1,000 homeless veterans off the street. With that goal accomplished, the San Diego Housing Commission isn't prepared to raise the stakes.

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