A homeless encampment on the San Diego River. Courtesy of the city

Ahead of presenting his proposed $4.6 billion spending plan to the San Diego City Council Tuesday, Mayor Todd Gloria Monday detailed parts of the budget designed to help address the city’s homelessness issue with “a compassionate, person-centered approach.”

Gloria is proposing around $10 million in investments toward programs to put unsheltered San Diegans on a path to permanent housing, as well as funding to support a new Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department.

“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, and ending it is my top priority,” he said. “My budget invests in programs that lead directly to moving our vulnerable neighbors off the streets and into care, shelter and, ultimately, stable homes. It’s time we begin to match the severity of the emergency with the strategies necessary to meaningfully confront it.”

Gloria’s proposed investments include:

— $1.35 million to expand substance use disorder treatment programs and add about 65 new short-term detoxification beds;

— $6.3 million to add up to 300 interim shelter beds at new sites to get more people off the streets;

— $1 million to expand the People Assisting the Homeless Coordinated Street Outreach Program, which uses a person-centered, neighborhood-based approach to cultivating trusting relationships with unsheltered residents and connecting them to housing and services;

— $1 million to expand rapid-rehousing programs to serve an additional 100 households, including rental assistance and case management;

— $300,000 to expand workforce training programs needed to bring more people into a career in providing homelessness services, such as the Homelessness Program for Engaged Educational Resources course, a collaboration between the San Diego Housing Commission and San Diego City College; and

— establishment of a homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and a national search for a director to lead it. In addition to the director, the new department would include three new senior-level positions.

Taken together, Gloria said, the actions will help the city make significant progress on strategies laid out in the Community Action Plan on Homelessness.

The roughly $10 million the mayor is proposing to allocate to homelessness programs would come from federal American Rescue Plan, he said.

The federal legislation also includes investments in housing stability, including $21.5 billion nationwide for rental assistance through 2025 and $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers through 2030. San Diego also anticipates it will receive about $21 million in ARP funding to fight homelessness this year and will soon be issuing a $30 million Notice of Funding Availability for affordable housing projects.

At the state level, Project Homekey is expected to provide at least $750 million statewide for the purchase of hotels, motels, apartments and other buildings to provide permanent homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The city drew nearly $38 million from the first round of Project Homekey funding in 2020 to purchase two extended-stay hotels, in Mission Valley and Kearny Mesa, which provided 332 fully furnished apartments along with supportive services.

Gloria will present his proposed budget to the city council at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday at 11 a.m.

–City News Service

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