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San Diego Mayor Asking Landlords To Participate In Program To House Homeless Veterans

Homeless people crowd a parkway with tents and makeshift housing in San Diego, July 6, 2016.
Associated Press
Homeless people crowd a parkway with tents and makeshift housing in San Diego, July 6, 2016.
San Diego Mayor Asking Landlords To Participate In Program To House Homeless Veterans
San Diego Mayor Asking Landlords To Participate In Program To House Homeless Veterans GUEST: Richard Gentry, president and CEO, San Diego Housing Commission

San Diego, like other big cities around the country is working with the federal policy called Houston first. To cut down the number of homeless people living on the streets one of the first priorities has been to get homeless veterans a roof over there Mac ads and millions of dollars have been poured into this effort. San Diego's housing are our heroes campaign is less than halfway to its goal with a little over just three months to go. Our guest and studio is gentry president and CEO of San Diego Housing Commission. Thank you for coming in. Let's start with this "Housing Our Heroes' campaign which the goal was to house 1000 by March. You Have housed fewer than 450 I gather that number changes in little bit every day but about 450. You Still hold out hope that you will be able to meet that goal? I think our members -- initial goal was aggressive and we knew that a year ago. We tried to get under 1000 within a year. We had enough money to do 1000 veterans for two years and then migrate those veterans and other programs. We do not see this as a particular problem. We have learned as we have got along that there is a need to do not just housing, to do housing first but not housing only to make sure services are attached to the landlords are housing people who how services from third-party providers. That is taking a bit more process. Right now have 450 veterans who are housed as of yesterday and as you say growing every day. Another 250 looking for housing and we believe will be housed in the next three months and then we will process on that after we get our full thousand. He spent more than $12 million on this effort. Is the biggest obstacle to getting veterans off the street? The biggest challenge him and his is going in I'm not sure I would call it an obstacle was getting when our participation. We have plenty of meat out of the committee with the vets on the street. We had money available to us from a variety of sources primarily federal and city picked the key to this was getting willing landlord participation and with the Mayor's outstanding leadership on this will be able to get 290 landlords to agree to participate who are providing these 450 units with another 141 units available right now. We think the primary obstacle was probably market landlord participation in they have risen to the efficient. How long does it take them to find an apartment? Typically about 60 days although we will extend if it takes longer than that. I will also point out that unlike our ordinary voucher program we have employed housing navigators to help this population locate and tie down a unit. We have also agreed to mass prior inspections of the units with the landlords as a way to smooth out the system. We have also agreed to incentive payments to the landlords. We do not believe the private sector should lose money on a social program. We think all of that together is making a big difference in process. The focus has been on veterans as the population, the homeless population to really start making an impact. Does this slow road on the program made other sections of the homeless population, families with kids for example are perhaps not getting the resources they need? I wouldn't say that. We only have so many resources. That money has to be allocated out in some form or fashion and we believe this being a very strong military city in the veterans being a sympathetic group of folks for the general population this is a good population to center our efforts on. It using the same problems facing the veterans would face anybody in the homeless population? I suspect so. There are number of factors that lead to homelessness picked as an end result, it is not a cause and a number of factors lead to think they are not atypical. Wanted to ask you this housing first model which is based on the theory that you give somebody a roof over there Mac and before you start asking them to make changes in their lives so you give them the roof and that they can make the changes. Is that working? I think so. If you look at the provision of homeless resources they fall into three categories. Emergency, short-term, transitional which is typically dormitory style setting but over the course of a couple of years and then permanent supportive. Sometimes it is hard for someone with a chronic problem in their life to get that dealt with it they are in a dormitory setting where they do not have a place to call home. We do believe in housing first. We do not believe in housing first only. We believe that housing first with services and we believe in the other resources as well. There needs to be a balance. Rec you're up against a major problem but you are doing good work thank you for coming in. That gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission.

More than 700 homeless veterans have been enrolled in the city of San Diego's "Housing Our Heroes" campaign since it began in March of last year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday in urging landlords to take part in the program.

"Every veteran we get off the street and into housing is another step forward in our continued push to reduce homelessness across the city. We're making progress, but we still have more work to do," he said.

"While many landlords have stepped up to take in homeless veterans, we're asking for even more to open their doors this holiday season and make room for our struggling heroes," Faulconer said. "We are also adding new tools and expanding existing programs so there is better coordination and care among San Diego's service providers to help our entire homeless population."

The "Housing Our Heroes" campaign is a $12.5 million initiative and call to action to secure housing for 1,000 homeless veterans by March 2017.

Councilman Chris Ward joined the mayor at a news conference in front of an apartment complex in North Park that houses formerly homeless veterans.

"Our Housing Our Heroes goal is within reach, and with the support of property owners in our community this holiday season we can get 1,000 unsheltered veterans into permanent housing opportunities," Ward said.

"But even with the push for this ambitious benchmark we have a long way to go to address the special needs of all of those who are homeless, and I will continue pressing for more solutions to decrease the number of San Diegans on our streets in 2017," Ward said.

The campaign has secured housing for 450 homeless veterans so far, while an additional 254 have received housing assistance by way of housing vouchers and financial assistance, and are in the process of searching for an apartment.

The landlord outreach component of the campaign has made available hundreds of units for homeless veterans, and there are 141 units available for those still looking for a place, city officials said.

"One-bedroom and studio rental units are in great demand for our homeless veterans, who desire to move into communities, such as Hillcrest and North Park, and so we are making another appeal to our private landlords, as we are grateful to the 290 who have already welcomed our Housing Our Heroes veterans," said Richard Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission.

Securing housing for homeless veterans is often a slow process which is due, in large part, to the tight rental market within the city of San Diego.

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