Hafsa Kaka
Hafsa Kaka

After conducting a nationwide search, Mayor Todd Gloria Tuesday appointed Hafsa Kaka as director of the newly established Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department.

Kaka brings more than 15 years of experience in homeless, mental health and social services to the role. An immigrant and woman of color, Kaka said she hopes to address homelessness through an equity lens and with a collaborative perspective.

“I’m excited to be part of Mayor Gloria’s efforts to address the immediate and long-term challenges facing homeless individuals in San Diego,” Kaka said. “Over the past 15 years, I’ve been able to see the devastation of the homelessness crisis in Southern California firsthand and understand the diverse types of policies and programs we need to collectively create in order to find effective solutions.”

Her start date is Aug. 9.

Most recently, Kaka served as the homeless solutions officer for the city of Riverside, where she designed and implemented a program that removed the city’s largest encampment by placing individuals into housing through the collective work of multidisciplinary teams.

She also worked on a regional approach as homeless services manager for Santa Ana. Prior to her civic experience, Kaka worked at the Los Angeles Homeless Authority in addition to various other homeless shelters, social service organizations and health clinics throughout Southern California.

“Hafsa’s diverse experiences and deep understanding of homelessness in Southern California gives her the tools she needs to be successful in this new role,” Gloria said. “Her enthusiasm, dedication and passion for finding person-centered solutions to the homelessness crisis will be a tremendous asset to our city as we continue working to ensure our homelessness efforts are compassionate and effective.”

Gloria created the new department in June. Converting the existing Homelessness Strategies Division into the Department of Homelessness Strategies and Solutions was a recommended action from homelessness expert Matthew Doherty’s report on the city’s homelessness strategies.

Kaka is assembling a team that will work with the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the San Diego Housing Commission, the county and other key partners.

Kaka holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and social behavior, and criminology, law and society from UC Irvine. She also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota.

–City News Service