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San Diego Joins Zero: 2016, National Program To End Homelessness

Associated Press
Homeless veteran Jerome Belton poses for a portrait at a homeless shelter in San Diego, Sept. 19, 2012. A former Marine, Belton now lives on the streets in San Diego.

San Diego was one of 68 cities named Tuesday to participate in a national program aimed at eliminating homelessness among military veterans and others who are chronically living on the streets.

The Zero: 2016 program was established and funded by the New York-based nonprofit Community Solutions, which announced in June that it had helped communities provide housing for 105,000 people over a four-year period.

For 15 years, Schnell's other reality has been among the city's homeless. He's the leader of the Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team, or HOT, a specific set of officers who work with the city's homeless population.
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Zero: 2016 will work with a local organization, 25 Cities San Diego, which has developed a system to coordinate how the homeless are assessed and placed into housing.

Michael McConnell, a longtime San Diego business owner who's deeply involved in homelessness, works as the team leader for 25 Cities San Diego.

"25 Cities San Diego is building the system that will bring our community much closer to eradicating veteran and chronic homelessness," McConnell said. "The multiple private and public organizations that are leading this systems design work locally will continue to work together in alignment with the new campaign to accelerate and eventually meet the goal of eliminating homelessness."

"The additional resources provided through Zero: 2016 will serve to further the work we've started," he said.

McConnell said by joining Zero: 2016, 25 Cities will be able to create more impact.

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"Really energizing the community, mobilizing the resources, coordinating the resources, coordinating all the efforts together around the goal of ending homelessness," he said. "And actually identifying what it takes to do that, so then you can identify what the resources are that are needed to get to zero."

No funding comes from Zero 2016, but the program does bring opportunities for San Diego to teach and learn from other cities, McConnell said.

On Wednesday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Council President Todd Gloria and the San Diego Housing Commission plan to announce a three-year Homeless Action Plan. The goal of the plan is to get 1,500 people off the streets and into housing where they will also receive supportive services.

Their news conference is scheduled to take place in front of the Hotel Churchill, a seven-story structure that's being renovated to provide 72 low- cost housing for veterans. The $17 million project is expected to be completed in February 2016.

The building at 827 C St. has been closed for about nine years.