Supervisor Pushing For Subsidy Program Aimed At Keeping People From Becoming Homeless
Monday, November 18, 2019
Credit: Courtesy of Voice of San Diego by Adriana Heldiz
Giving money to people to keep them from becoming homeless is a proposed program being floated by San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.
"When you confront a problem as vexing as the homeless one, it requires you to do different things," Fletcher said. "It requires you to be innovative."
For Fletcher that means launching a subsidy program called a Flexible Funds For Housing Program, or a flex pool.
"Maybe there’s an apartment available to someone and it’s $800 a month, but all they can afford is $500. And maybe we can bridge that gap," he said.
The "flex" in flex pool means the money would be flexible — it can be used countywide and for a variety of reasons.
"Someone, who their car breaks down and they have to make a choice — do I fix my car and keep my job or do I pay my rent?" Fletcher said.
The flex pool concept is one used by nonprofits including Jewish Family Service which operates three city-funded “safe parking lots” where people can sleep in their vehicles overnight.
"In those contracts, there are dollars to operate the lots, but there really aren’t the dollars to kind of provide the what-ifs," said Jewish Family CEO Michael Hopkins.
Those what-ifs include things like repairs, rent, storage costs, or other bills.
"We’ve helped them get back into housing and they’ve been in housing for six months, seven months then all of a sudden something happens at that house and they’re short a month," Hopkins said. "We’ve worked — all of us have worked — way too long to get them back into housing for them to be off a month or two for rent and then to be back out on the streets."
The other part of a flex "pool" is the pool — or the money. The county has $2.5 million that is eligible for the flex pool, and other funds could come from grants, businesses or private donors with one goal in mind.
"To get them (people) off the streets or keep them from going onto the streets," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said people on a fixed income would benefit from this program. He wants the county to take the lead in managing the program. Supervisors are voting on moving the idea forward Tuesday.
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