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San Diego City Leaders Launch $80 Million Plan To House The Homeless

People stand outside of tents on 17th Street in San Diego's East Village, Nov. 25, 2016.
Kris Arciaga
People stand outside of tents on 17th Street in San Diego's East Village, Nov. 25, 2016.
San Diego City Leaders Launch $80 Million Plan To House The Homeless
GUEST: Alison St John, North County reporter, KPBS

Our top story midday edition the mayor in the housing commission announced an additional $80 million to the regions housing first program. The money will be used to help fund permanent support of housing for the homeless and services to help stop families from becoming homeless. This next phase of the plan was announced today. Alison St John attended that news conference and she joins us now. As I understand it this money will be used over three years to boost San Diego's homeless services. What kinds of services will the 80 million he spent on? This is the continuation of a program that the city housing commission has been running for the last 2 1/2 years. So they plan to be building 500 new permanent units in the next three years using subsidies like federal tax credits. That's were part of this money is going. They have already built 523 additional units in the last two and a half years with more than $60 million at the start off with. So this is like keeping the ball rolling on a program that appears to be successful in meeting some of the needs of the people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with more affordable housing units. The mayor is expanding the veterans housing heroes program. That used to be for veterans will that program now be available to all homeless individuals? They are going to expand it beyond veterans. This has been a very successful program for veterans. They have housed 800 of them in the last couple of years and they have another 328 homeless veterans right now. This one is going to open the program to a wider population and Ron Roberts from the county supervisor said that 733 vouchers would be added to the county's project for all programs. They have house about 384 since last June. This doubles the voucher program. A problem is that landlords don't necessarily want to take a voucher from somebody who they don't feel they can rely on to keep paying the rent and might cause other problems. They've also started a landlord incentive program, which has really encouraged people to accept the veterans and should encourage members to accept wider segment of this population. Something you mentioned is some money will be spent on intervention the programs that try to stop people from becoming homeless. Are those already in place here in San Diego? I did not hear anything from all the people who spoke. I did not hear anybody talking about new programs. This was more a matter of existing programs that have worked and the possibility of some programs that have it worked and discontinued. I have not had a chance to ask Rick which of the programs didn't work and were discontinued but that would be a question to ask. This is something to maintain a program that everybody acknowledges and has been successful even though it only provides housing for a small section of the people who need it. Somebody was a new director from the homeless coronation. He's a successor to Stacy Spector who left that job last month. Did he speak today? He did. He was very positive about this. He says we have all hands on deck's. -- Deck. He was proud to be a part of that. Also present was Gordon Walker who was a new head of the regional task force on the homeless and he did not speak but he is now a major player on the team that is dealing with the homeless here in San Diego. So he also lent his presence and is very supportive of continuing with these programs that the city has been successful with. You covered a lot of news conferences and initiatives about the homeless. What is your take away from the event today? Well, $18 million is going to be spent on this sounds like a lot of money and it is, but the city has been spending millions of dollars on the homeless problem for several years. This is not that big of an increase that the housing commission announced a couple of years ago. So it's good news that they are managing possible federal cards to housing subsidies and managed to keep the program going. Their building affordable units and I would say it's more of a continuation with a little bit of new money added. I've been speaking with Alison St John. Thank you. My pleasure.

San Diego city leaders will announce an $80 million plan Wednesday to get thousands of homeless people off the streets.

The three-year plan could put a significant dent in the homeless crisis by placing 3,000 people into permanent supportive housing. It will also fund a prevention program to help 1,000 individuals or families on the brink of eviction from falling into homelessness.

"We would be able to step in and help pay rent for a month or two, we would help stabilize the family -- maybe help them look for other resources," said Rick Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission and one of the leaders overseeing the plan.


RELATED: Social Workers Go ‘Tent To Tent’ In Push To Help San Diego’s Homeless

Another component of the plan is stepped-up outreach services to help homeless people use their housing vouchers to find a place to live.

Alison St John, KPBS North County reporter, discussed the initiative Wednesday on Midday Edition.