By Stephen Russell
The City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness, unanimously approved last week, accurately depicts the stark conditions in San Diego around the current lack of available supportive and affordable housing units for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. More importantly, the report provides a roadmap to real, permanent solutions, including housing creation.
As stated in the action plan, “the time to act is now, and we must act together.” Achieving these solutions must be done collaboratively, in a process that includes a range of experts and stakeholders.
Ensuring that all San Diegans have a safe, secure home is a benefit to all of us. This is exactly why we must act together; it is our collective problem, and working together we can solve the homelessness and housing crisis in San Diego.
As stated in a roadmap in the action plan, we should work around specific goals and “build momentum towards change,” set those priorities and also identify principles to ensure that actions are aligned with our values. By putting plans to action, specifically by working together, we will make true strides to solve our crisis in San Diego.
Solving this together was a sentiment loudly echoed in the discussions and presentations earlier this month at the San Diego Housing Federation’s annual Affordable Housing and Community Development Conference. Appropriately, the theme for this year’s conference was “Building A Movement.” Our efforts together, building our strategies, and moving forward effective policies, can effectively create real solutions.
The momentum will come from various sectors in our community, including the nearly 200 organizational and individual members of the San Diego Housing Federation who are working every day on the front lines of the housing crisis. Members of the San Diego Housing Federation — the builders, operators, funders, service providers, and advocates of supportive and affordable housing — have provided hundreds of families and individuals with stable places to call home.
These mission-driven organizations are not only skilled at building quality affordable housing, they also have experience in the partnerships needed to deliver the wide-range of supportive services to keep residents stably housed, improve their health, and prepare for life off the street.
The Homelessness and Affordable Housing Bond we have proposed directly addresses the issues raised in this report. With passage of the bond measure in November of next year, we can build the 5,400 supportive and affordable housing units that are needed to house those who are currently experiencing homelessness and trapped in an endless cycle of short-term solutions.
Passage of the measure can even exceed that goal and build a badly needed additional 2,100 units to serve as a safety net for those at-risk of becoming homeless. Overall, it can ensure that housing is available to San Diego residents across all socioeconomic levels.
When combined with funds for support services generated by the proposed transit occupancy tax increase, the expertise of the affordable housing and community development sectors can responsibly leverage these local resources with state and federal matching funds to build the supportive housing that is called for in this report.
What needs to be accomplished is no simple task, but it is very doable. With support from voters, we can achieve solutions to the homeless crisis.
We applaud the authors of the Community Action Plan, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, along with the partners of the City of San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission and all who worked on the plan.
Let’s act now — together — to put real solutions in motion, and solve the humanitarian crisis we have locally.
Stephen Russell is the executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation.
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