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San Diego City Council Wraps Up Special Committee On Homelessness

A man pushes a cart filled blankets, clothes and a chair balanced on top down...

Photo by Guillermo Sevilla

Above: A man pushes a cart filled blankets, clothes and a chair balanced on top down 17th Street in San Diego, Calif., July 20, 2017.

San Diego City Council members on Thursday held the final meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness, with members vowing to continue the committee's mission.

The council established the committee in May 2017 as a temporary forum to advance solutions to homelessness. It has moved forward a handful of initiatives including an expansion of a pilot employment program for rapid re-housing clients and a mostly symbolic resolution to construct more than 1,000 permanent supportive housing units in the city spread across all nine council districts.

Last month the committee heard a presentation from the city's Real Estate Assets Department identifying 22 city-owned properties, totaling nearly 54 acres, where developers could potentially build new affordable housing.

Chairman Chris Ward said the homelessness committee's mission would continue within the council's permanent committee structure, and that he was looking forward to hearing more ideas from the new City Council members being inaugurated next month — even if they do not always agree.

"A little bit of healthy tension can be a good thing," he said. "I think if we are complacent, then we can kind of stretch things out and not much will get done. So we want to challenge each other I think to be able to do more and do things faster."

Earlier this week, Ward and three of his council colleagues voted against a plan proposed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to spend roughly $2 million to open up a "housing navigation center" in a shuttered indoor skydiving facility in the East Village. The measure passed 5-4, with Council President Myrtle Cole joining the council's four Republicans in approving the plan.

Faulconer argued the center was necessary to simplify and centralize people's access to social services. Ward and other critics argued the housing navigation center would do nothing to address the root cause of San Diego's homelessness crisis — a lack of permanent supportive housing.

San Diego City Council members have held the final meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness, with members vowing to continue the committee's mission.

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