Some homeless sleep on the sidewalks during the day.
Some homeless sleep on the sidewalks during the day. Photo by Chris Stone

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved $500,000 in rental assistance for the homeless in unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

The money comes from the federal HOME Investment Partnership, a flexible affordable housing grant. The board voted to reallocate those funds for two years of rental assistance for homeless people.

According to a census performed on one night in April, there were 326 people living in unincorporated San Diego County.

Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said she was concerned that the county would be unable to ensure beneficiaries of the program were finding employment after being accepting into it. The county is unable to put such requirements on the program because it involves a federal grant, she said.

“It’s my strong belief that we should hold individuals that receive housing assistance accountable,” she said. “There’s no real guarantee that these individuals in two years time will be self-sufficient.”

Staff estimated that around 100 people — in 60 households — would accept the help, which could extend for up to two years. Participants would also be offered help with food, childcare, healthcare and senior services.

The county Health and Human Services Agency already assists with outreach providing emergency shelter options and homelessness prevention, according to a staff report.

Tuesday afternoon, the San Diego City Council will consider plans to fund three temporary homeless shelters.

The council will be asked to approve the San Diego Housing Commission’s plan to spend $6.5 million on industrial-sized tents to accommodate the homeless in Barrio Logan, the East Village and the Midway District. The tents would be operated by the nonprofit Alpha Project, St. Vincent de Paul Village and Veterans Village of San Diego.

City officials have been under pressure to act because of an exploding number of people living on San Diego’s streets, along with an associated outbreak of hepatitis A.

Critics of the tents proposal contend the plan would take money from programs that provide permanent housing and services that would result in longer-term success for participants.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, though, calls the “temporary bridge shelters” a “crucial transition point” where housing experts will help homeless men and women find placements in permanent housing.

“Offering more clean and safe spaces that transition the homeless from living on the streets to living in a permanent home is exactly what San Diego needs right now,” Faulconer said in announcing the tent program. “This represents a significant expansion of our homeless service network and is one of the most immediate and effective actions we can take to provide relief to unsheltered people who are suffering and want help.”

If approved, the tents would be located at:

— the parking lot on Father Joe’s Villages campus at 14th and Commercial streets in the East Village;

— a vacant lot in the 2700 block of Sports Arena Boulevard, behind the Goodwill store, in the Midway District; and

— a vacated street at 16th Street and Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan.

—City News Service