Q & A with Jennifer LeSar and Kevin Crawford

jen and kevWhat can we expect from the Campaign over the next two years?

Jennifer LeSar, Campaign Coordinator and Co-chair, The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego: The blueprint for ending homelessness is set: The 25 Cities Initiative, Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and a revamped Regional Continuum of Care Council (RCCC) Governance Board are all in place and working. All we need to do is keep our foot on the gas pedal.

Kevin Crawford, CEO and President, United Way of San Diego County: We will sustain efforts to continue to move chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing and create impactful solutions to ending homelessness in San Diego County — for example, by supporting systems changes that will, in turn, support better services for individuals. We also plan to scale up our efforts regionally by engaging the business community in a meaningful and effective way.

Can you really end homelessness?

JL: Absolutely. Employing the Housing First approach, we’ve proven you can take people off the street, house them in a dignified and respectful way, and provide the necessary supportive services to stabilize them. In this way, we’ve housed 1,150 formerly homeless people.

KC: Then, the next step is redirecting all the services currently aimed at helping folks on the street to providing the support systems needed to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

JL: In alignment with national direction, and continued partnerships across sectors, Downtown San Diego can end veteran homelessness by 2015, and chronic street homelessness by 2016.

What are the biggest issues we face in ending homelessness?

JL: Collaboration and change. To end homelessness we need full buy-in, ownership, and commitment from every organization in San Diego that touches affordable housing and homelessness. There is a fear in sharing data and providing full transparency. That culture must change if we are to achieve our ultimate goals.

KC: We must focus on the efficient and appropriate use of existing resources. As Jennifer said, we need all providers to embrace an open, data-driven service model that streamlines collection of information and delivery of services. We all share the same goal. Now we just need to get everyone on the same page.

The Campaign has clearly accomplished a great deal over the past four years. Talk about the one thing you’re most proud of.

JL: I am proud of the incredibly talented and dedicated Leadership Team we’ve assembled. Using the Collective Impact model, we’ve mobilized an impressive group of C-level executives and their staffs representing a broad range of public- and private-sector interests. They’ve all subscribed to a common agenda to solve a specific social problem: homelessness.

KC: United Way has been the driving force behind ending homelessness in San Diego. We created the key partnerships that set the wheels in motion. With the foresight of Doug Sawyer, United Way created and funded the Plan to End Chronic Homelessness (PTECH), Project 25, and Funders Together to End Homelessness in San Diego. I am proud of our organization’s track record and it’s my privilege to continue this work.