San Diego misses deadline to apply for homeless housing funds
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Roughly 61 million in funds, earmarked for permanent supportive housing in San Diego county has gone unclaimed that's after the county and city governments failed to submit any proposals for projects that would give affordable homes to people experiencing homelessness. The free money would have come from project home key, a state initiative aimed at using federal COVID relief funds and state dollars to convert existing properties into permanent homes for homeless Californians. While the program isn't over, it's less clear now whether it will deliver any money to help with San Diego's homelessness crisis. Joining me now is Lisa Hals stat reporter for voice of Diego. Lisa, welcome back to the program. Thanks for having me now, Lisa, this seems like a really big fumble. How did San Diego miss this deadline and end up leaving millions of dollars in free money in home for homelessness relief on the table? Well,
Speaker 2: (00:55)
It basically just comes down to not being able to meet a big deadline. As you said in the intro San Diego officials new for months that they had a good shot at about 61 million in project home key funding, but they needed to submit an application by January 31st. That was because there was a so called geographic allocation. If region supplied, um, by January 31st, they would essentially only have to compete for funds with these in counties within their region. I'm told that there was a lot of hard work to try to bring together projects by the January 31st deadline, but San Diego region just couldn't get things together in time. So now they'll have to compete statewide
Speaker 1: (01:36)
For money. Can you remind us again, what is project home key and what does it hope to achieve?
Speaker 2: (01:42)
So project home key is governor Gavin Newsom's initiative to use federal COVID relief funds and state money to convert properties, namely hotels, um, which has gotten the most attention into permanent housing for homeless people. And indeed it has helped to move thousands of homeless people across the state, into permanent homes, including hundreds and San Diego
Speaker 1: (02:03)
Project home. He has been as you noted hailed as a, a big success in creating new homes for people getting out of homelessness and doing it quickly. But the program has some controversy in San Diego county. Tell us about that. It
Speaker 2: (02:17)
Has had some controversy. So back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the city of San Diego got nearly 38 million to quickly buy two residents in hotels, but it later came to light that a broker helped with one of the purchases invested in the company that the city bought. One of those hotels from which obviously gives him an alleged conflict of interest. The city's housing agency also relied on property assessments that were done before the pandemic for that hotel to decide how much it should pay for it, which created concerns that the city paid an inflated amount. There have also been concerns about whether the city is providing adequate supports for the people who are now living in those two hotels. And that's just the city, San Diego county withdrew its soul application last go round back in 2020 after officials in LA Mesa objected to a plan to convert a hotel in their city because they said they just felt blindsided by the county's plan.
Speaker 1: (03:12)
What are the kinds of obstacles that stand in the way of getting these housing projects off the ground?
Speaker 2: (03:18)
Well, it's important to note that these projects are always very difficult to make work. The financing is very complex. There's a lot of things that need to come together. But developers that I talked to said, project home key requirements, make things even more challenging. Project home key requires that they have to finish any upgrades that they need to do within a year of getting key funds, which can be really difficult if you need to get permits to do that work. Or if there's a lot of rehab needed. Developers also told me that the hotel market is drastically different than it was back in 2020, when we can all recall tourism here, basically ground to a Hal. So now hotel owners want more money and the price has to also be right for developers to ensure at this project they're working on will work over the long haul because it's not just a matter of making a project work physically, but they need to be able to operate it and fund services there over the long haul. Lisa,
Speaker 1: (04:11)
What is permanent supportive housing and how does that fit into the solutions that we have in front of us with our homelessness crisis?
Speaker 2: (04:19)
So permanent supportive housing is really considered a really core piece of the state's homelessness response. Permanent supportive housing is essentially an affordable housing unit that comes with services attached to it. Now that can be services that that location maybe supports where there's a case manager who comes and talks to the person's day. There maybe there is food services or benefits workers who come and, and assist that individual. Sometimes this all happens at one site and sometimes it happens, you know, in distributed sites, but this is really considered to be the crucial response for people who've been on the streets for a long time and have a lot of needs, permanent supportive housing. Doesn't require that people living at these properties, um, participate in the services that they're offered, but typically most people staying in them do access those services.
Speaker 1: (05:15)
Now this missed deadline with project home key doesn't mean that San Diego will get nothing out of the latest round of funding. What happens next?
Speaker 2: (05:23)
Well, I have to say that San Diego leaders are adamant that they are not giving up. They say that they are working very hard to try to pull together projects. It's just that now they will have to compete with other statewide for funding in this round. The new deadline that they're looking at is early may or until the funds run out, which ever comes first. There will also be another shot for San Diego this summer when a third round of home key funds is expected to be released. So bottom line, there are still opportunities for San Diego, but there are fewer guarantees of funding in this latest round.
Speaker 1: (05:58)
I've been speaking with voice of San Diego reporter, Lisa Hal stat. Lisa, thanks for joining us.
Speaker 2: (06:04)
Thanks for having me.
Roughly $61 million in funds earmarked for permanent supportive housing in San Diego County has gone unclaimed.
The county and city governments failed to submit any proposals for projects that would give affordable homes to people experiencing homelessness.
The free money would have come from Project Homekey, a state initiative aimed at using federal COVID-19 relief funds and state dollars to convert existing properties into permanent homes for homeless Californians.
While the program isn't over, it's less clear now whether it will deliver any money to help with San Diego's homelessness crisis.