Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Military

New North County Program Aims To Help Homeless Veterans

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn is shown talking about homelessness to an audience of North County community leaders on Jan. 14, 2015.
Chris Chan
San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn is shown talking about homelessness to an audience of North County community leaders on Jan. 14, 2015.

Social service and government agencies along with other community partners met in Escondido on Wednesday to launch a new initiative to end veteran homelessness in North County.

The initiative, 25 Cities San Diego, is aimed at ending veteran homelessness.

“This project will bring together service providers from throughout North County, as well as law enforcement, hospitals and every group that works with homeless individuals in our community to utilize a common assessment for every person who is homeless and seeking shelter, and then plug those individuals into housing resources that are right-sized for their situation,” said Greg Anglea, executive director of Interfaith Community Services.

The initiative will focus on getting people into homes without the requirement of being drug or alcohol-free.

Leaders in the group said those standards have prevented long-term solutions to veteran homelessness.

“We find that those folks just cycle back through the system and we spend money over and over and over instead of just solving their homelessness very quickly and cutting down on that churn,” said Michael McConnell, a team leader for 25 Cities San Diego. “The churn is really what’s burning up a lot of the money that we need to solve everybody’s homelessness and create a better system."

The group is the local arm of a federal initiative. Its immediate goal is to set up a system to identify those in need, and then find long-term housing for them as quickly as possible.

The organization has received $5 million from the Veterans Affairs Department, which will partially fund the program.

Statistics from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless showed that there were 1,660 homeless people in North County San Diego in 2014.

McConnell said the new approach has already been successful in eliminating veteran homelessness in New Orleans. The same program was implemented in downtown San Diego in 2014.

Corrected:
Chris Chan is a North County freelance multimedia journalist. Facebook: chrischanmedia. Twitter: @chrischansd.