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San Diego City Council OKs grant-funded plan for encampment outreach

The seal for the City of San Diego is pictured above in this undated photo.
KPBS Staff
The seal for the City of San Diego is pictured above in this undated photo.

The city of San Diego will conduct additional cleanup and outreach to homeless people living in encampments along the San Diego River under a plan approved by the City Council Tuesday and funded by a $3.6 million state grant.

The city will use the grant, which awarded last June, to pay for the task "as part of an ongoing effort to bring people experiencing homelessness off the street and connect them to supportive services and housing," according to a city statement.

According to the city's Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, it will spend roughly $950,000 on contracted outreach teams, $1.3 million for rental subsidies and $1.2 million for case management and housing navigation services.


The grant is part of the state's Encampment Resolution Funding Program, and will help cover the costs of rental housing, supportive services and outreach efforts.

Proponents said outreach workers will use "a person-centered, compassionate approach" and offer services tailored to people's specific needs, including case management, health education, public benefits, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and primary care referrals.

Homeless people will also have access to basic essentials, hygiene kits and transportation, the city said.

The city previously received two ERF grants, with one used to deal with encampments near a portion of Interstate 15 in the City Heights neighborhood, and the second focused along a portion of E Street in the East Village neighborhood.

Before the vote, council President Sean Elo-Rivera said such programs can "ultimately tilt the balance" of those facing homelessness, and slowly but surely result in fewer encampments.


In a statement, Elo-Rivera said because homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, the city "must aggressively pursue the resources" to effectively address it.

"I'm grateful for our partnership with Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department to win state funding that will alleviate the suffering of those without homes and relieve neighborhoods from the health and safety issues that can arise from encampments," he said. "This funding will support long- term solutions using a data-driven, persistent and compassionate approach to ultimately connect neighbors with homes."

State funding has been instrumental in ongoing efforts to get people off the streets and into care, Mayor Todd Gloria said.

"By clearing unsafe encampments along our river and connecting residents to housing, we're not only improving public health and safety, but also fostering a sense of dignity and stability for those in need," he said in a statement.

The funding provided to the city was part of an overall $17 million grant also awarded to San Diego County, the city of Santee and Caltrans.

The overall state funding for the county, San Diego and Santee governments will help 168 people move into permanent or long-term housing, officials said.

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