County Identifies Locations For First Homeless Shelter, Supportive Housing
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / February 26, 2020
San Diego County is one step closer to finishing a plan to address homelessness in the unincorporated areas.
Speaker 1: 00:00 From additional outreach officers to emergency relocation sites. San Diego County is moving forward with its plan to step up its assistance to the homeless. The board of supervisors Tuesday heard back from staff on the first wave of actions approved last month to provide help to people living unsheltered in the counties unincorporated areas. The plan includes an expansion of the hotel motel voucher program estimated to cost the County seven point $9 million. Johnny me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman and Matt welcome. Hey Morin. After the supervisors gave the go ahead to the new plan, they asked County staff to come back with a report on their progress. What did they report back yesterday?
Speaker 2: 00:42 Yeah. We're talking about this report on this as they call it a homelessness pipeline that the County wants to create right now. They say they don't have this pipeline. They have this hotel motel voucher program, which basically gives people a roof over their head. Uh, there's some people that will come in and check in on them. Um, there's some services they get like laundry and other services, uh, but they really want to build this whole pipeline in that pipeline is something where you could say it starts at the hotel motel voucher, then it goes to something building like a shelter or they go to a shelter and then once they're in that shelter for a long time, they get out of that shelter and they go toward either affordable housing or some type of a supportive permanent housing. Uh, yesterday we heard from the board that since their action, um, last month to approve that hotel motel voucher program, uh, namely in spring Valley, uh, at Lamar park where there's a large number of people who are homeless, uh, sleeping at that park. Uh, they say they were able to get about 56 people off the streets and into a hotels or motels, part of that hotel voucher program. So, so that was the update yesterday that they have gotten so far more than 50 people off of the streets and into this hotel motel voucher.
Speaker 1: 01:39 How is the County identifying people who need shelter? Are they sending workers to outreach? To the homeless.
Speaker 2: 01:45 Yeah, they are. There's an accounting staff out there and they're basically giving these people these hotel motel vouchers and bringing them into this hotel motel voucher program. Um, a lot of those people converged on converged in spring Valley, uh, to Lamar park a month ago and got a lot of those people out of there. I'm also part of this pipeline plan. The county's working on, they're also beeping off the Sheriff's department homeless assistance, uh, resource team also called heart. Um, and that's sort of like the city of San Diego's or their, their police departments team to going out there trying to connect with the homeless on a one on one level, trying to figure out what their needs are. So they're also working to build that up in addition to these hotel motel vouchers and then getting some shelters or some permanent supportive housing.
Speaker 1: 02:21 Well, as you say, the a, a major part of the, the counties, uh, homeless pipeline is working on building homeless shelters for the first time. Tell us more about it.
Speaker 2: 02:31 Yeah, it's really kind of an unprecedented plan. I mean the County or they're not in the shelter business right now. They don't operate any shelters in the unincorporated areas. Um, they identified County staff found 15 locations and that where they could potentially build a shelter or build some, uh, supportive housing and that's an and or I should say, um, cause this plan encompasses, uh, some sort of a bridge shelter and then also, uh, some more permanent supportive housing. Now of those 15 locations, six are in spring Valley, two are in Lakeside, seven are in Fallbrook. We asked for a specific addresses of where those are. The County says that they are not going to be releasing those as they're still looking to see which one works best. We do know that the governor identified some properties last week and we know that some of those are some Caltrans properties. Uh, but it's a mix of Caltrans properties, County properties and some private properties that they would have to buy and then develop onto.
Speaker 1: 03:18 Now the city of San Diego has already poured millions into shelters and housing for the homeless. Why has it taken the County so long? Just step up.
Speaker 2: 03:26 I th I think it's a number of things. I mean, I asked this question directly to supervisor Diane Jacob, and she said, well, we don't want a bandaid fix like other cities are doing or other municipalities. We want a comprehensive approach and that, and that, that that's what they're saying this, this plan is. But also I think it's because we've seen, I mean, city of San Diego, we've seen, uh, the, the point in time count, the homeless numbers go down, but we're also seeing in other areas outside the city of San Diego, uh, those numbers are starting to rise like in an unincorporated area. So I think now they're realizing that, Hey, we have a problem. You talked to supervisor Jacob, supervisor Desmond. They say, yes, we do have a problem. Here. We see it, uh, the business owners, the residents are starting to realize it now. It's just a question of finding a site that works well for the community. I had a chance to talk yesterday with supervisor Jim Desmon. Um, obviously seven, um, location selected in Fallbrook, which is in his district five. He was unhappy with that and he wants to look at the whole district, not just one area of Fallbrook. Uh, but, uh, like as Desmond said yesterday, it's going to be hard to find a site that works well for communities.
Speaker 1: 04:22 Well, I think everybody gets the need. Nobody wants it next to them. And so that's the challenge that we have to face. And maybe finding spots that are less, um, you know, have less of an impact or minimize the impact. Uh, potentially.
Speaker 2: 04:37 Yeah, we talked about minimizing the impact. Now the County, when they chose these sites, it was very strategic. I mean, they don't want to stick them in the middle of nowhere, like Bracho Springs or something. They're trying to find sites that, that are near the quote unquote problem near near people who are homeless that are near services. Um, and, and they're trying to really spread it out. So, uh, it's gonna be a balancing act here. And, and I'm a supervisor. Jacobs says that they're already going out in the community having those discussions, telling them we are going to do this. And now it's just a matter of finding a location that works.
Speaker 1: 05:03 What's the timeframe that the County is looking at to get this homeless initiative off the ground? Well,
Speaker 2: 05:07 they've already been working on it for more than a year and the board, uh, there's a report due back to the board within 60 days. Now in those 60 days, a lot could happen. I mean, literally the County could say, Hey, we've made an offer on this property. Um, but what's likely gonna happen is they're going to come back and say, we've identified one property, two properties, three properties that we think are the ones that we should do. Um, but it really just kinda depends on staff here. I mean, it's, it's definitely gonna be a month long process going forward and we'll just have to see what those developments are. Is the state helping out in any way? Uh, the state is helping out. I mean, just last week, uh, governor Newsome, he identified hundreds of properties throughout the state that could be used to build some, some sort of shelter, some sort of permanent supportive housing.
Speaker 2: 05:47 A lot of those are Caltrans, lots, just all different kinds of state property, seven in San Diego County. Uh, some of those the County is looking at as well. And the state's basically offering saying, Hey, we'll give you a dollar lease on this land. And they say, you can also tap into this $650, uh, emergency homeless aid fund to help build those properties. Um, supervisor, uh, Jacob says that they are looking into some of those properties to see if they will work. Um, and also the governor also proposing more than a billion dollars to fight homelessness. You got to think that some of that is going to be available for these local jurisdictions who want to build. I mean, some of these properties the governor is talking about are in cities like San te. Um, can, does, does the city of Santee have the capital to build a homeless shelter to build some permanent supportive housing? I don't know. And then you've got to have the will of political leaders there too. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.
Speaker 3: 06:41 [inaudible].