SDHC’s Housing First-San Diego Program Unveiled

j SDHCEarlier this month, San Diego officials announced a three year, $200 million, five-point action plan to combat homelessness.

Housing First—San Diego is spearheaded by the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC).

“It’s called Housing First, but it’s not housing only,” said SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry. “In addition to everyone we’ve collaborated with at the City and in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to provide much-needed services, I especially want to thank the County Health and Human Services Agency and Dr. Piedad Garcia for their vital contributions.”

The Housing First – San Diego program will include:

  • The renovation of the Churchill Hotel to create 72 units to provide permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans and former foster children — $17 million.
  • The creation of permanent supportive housing using $30 million in funding allocated over the next three years. This permanent supportive housing has a long-term covenant: It must remain affordable for at least 55 years.
  • 1,500 federal rental vouchers for at-risk low-income families and individuals — $150 million.
  • Moving to Work,” a federally funded rental assistance program, which will dedicate 20 percent of its San Diego units for permanent supportive housing.
  • A commitment of 25 of SDHC’s own affordable units ($348,000 annually) to serve as temporary housing for homeless families and individuals. SDHC is one of the first public housing agencies in the nation to pledge affordable housing units that it owns and operates for this purpose.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a point of thanking County officials “who really step up time and time again to provide (much-needed homeless) services. We are going to be working very closely with the County as we always do to make sure these programs are a huge success,” Faulconer said.

This five-point initiative follows the housing first method of providing permanent housing to families and individuals before addressing other needs.

“We cannot be America’s Finest City with thousands of neighbors sleeping on our streets,” said City Council President Todd Gloria. “We are taking a hard look at what is working around the country to solve this problem and realigning our homeless programs to support the Housing First model, permanent supportive housing, and a Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement system. Our plan will support these efforts as we work collaboratively with community stakeholders to end homelessness.”

SDHC has released the Permanent Supportive Housing NOFA, calling for qualified and experienced applicants to help create the affordable housing outlined in Housing First – San Diego.

The San Diego Housing Commission is seeking donations to help furnish the newly created housing. To donate, contact SDHC at housingfirstsandiego@sdhc.org.

San Diego’s Winter Shelter is Up and Running

Winter shelterThe City of San Diego’s Single Adult Emergency Shelter opened this month and is already at capacity.

Since opening, the shelter has served 240 individuals, and that number is expected to grow.

This year, the shelter’s operation has been completely reworked. For the first time, placements are no longer on a first-come, first-served basis. The shelter is utilizing the Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) System and targeting the most vulnerable people based on acuity for placement. Unlike previous years, the length of stay has been limited to 45 days. Extensions maybe granted in certain cases.

The 2014/2015 Winter Shelter is truly a collaborative effort. Catholic Charities is providing onsite case management this year and all clients will be assigned housing navigators to assist them with placement into permanent housing. Alpha Project, a local non-profit, manages the day-to-day operations, and the San Diego Housing Commission administers the shelter under a 2010 agreement with the City.

If you wish to volunteer, click here.

California Has One-Fifth of the Nation’s Homeless

California leads the nation in homelessness according to HUD’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, according to a story on the 24/7 Wall St. website.

black and white handsThe report revealed telling data about homeless population concentrations at state levels. Roughly 50 percent of the nation’s homeless reside in the following five states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts. California has the largest concentration of homeless at 20 percent or 113,952 people, followed by New York (14 percent), Florida (7 percent), Texas (5 percent) and Massachusetts (4 percent).

Despite the having the largest concentration of homeless, California has made substantial progress in ending homelessness.  Between 2013 and 2014, California experienced the second largest decrease in homelessness (4,600 people), Florida ranked first with 6,320 fewer people.  Long-term, California has made even greater strides; between 2007 and 2014, California’s homelessness rates declined the most nationwide, by 25,034 people.

As the Annual Homeless Assessment Report highlighted, more work is still needed in California but the state’s progress is a positive indicator of future success.

Department of Housing and Community Development Announces nearly $10M in Grants to Fight Homelessness

Approximately $9.9 million in Emergency Solutions Grants have become available to assist persons experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness. Eligible projects will provide supportive services, emergency shelter/transitional housing, homelessness prevention assistance and permanent housing.

Organizations that provide assistance to persons experiencing homeless or persons at risk of becoming homeless are encouraged to apply. Please note restrictions on eligible counties.

The deadline for completed applications is December 15, 2014, 5pm.

To learn more about the state-level process, please visit HCD’s website.

For information on the local application process, please visit the CoC San Diego’s website.

PATH San Diego Seeking Managing Director

PATH LogoCalling all change agents! PATH San Diego is currently accepting applications for its Managing Director Position.  PATH has been working to address homelessness in Southern California for the last 30 years by providing supportive services, permanent housing development, support for homeless families, and community engagement services for vulnerable populations. Please submit all applications through PATH’s career site.

Learn more about PATH here.

San Diego Selected to Participate in Zero: 2016

25 Cities San Diego to Work in Tandem with New Campaign

San Diego has been selected, along with 68 other U.S. communities, to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness. 25 Cities San Diego, the local arm of a national initiative with the same aim, will work in tandem with Zero: 2016 by providing the necessary tools to ultimately end veteran and chronic homelessness in the region. To reflect this partnership, the initiative has been renamed 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero.

The Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement System (CAHP) designed and implemented by 25 Cities San Diego earlier in 2014 will play a key role in laying the groundwork to meet the national campaign goals. The CAHP system creates coordinated entry points for homeless individuals to be assessed and access services and housing – while prioritizing resources on an individual basis. It focuses on a person’s specific needs versus fitting a client into a one-size-fits-all program, and replaces previously used methods that were disconnected, confusing and inefficient.

“25 Cities San Diego is building the system that will bring our community much closer to eradicating chronic homelessness,” said 25 Cities San Diego Team Leader Michael McConnell. “The multiple private and public organizations that are leading this systems design work locally will continue to work together in alignment with the new campaign to accelerate and eventually meet the goal of eliminating homelessness. The additional resources provided through Zero: 2016 will serve to further the work we’ve started.”

Zero: 2016 was established and is funded by Community Solutions, a national nonprofit based in New York City. The initiative is a rigorous follow-on to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years.

San Diego was selected for Zero: 2016 because of its participation and progress with 25 Cities. The initiative will formally launch in January 2015 during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, during which local volunteers will hit area streets and shelters to enumerate the local homeless population.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the results of the 2014 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which shows that homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories, including chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness was singled out by the report for its particularly steep decline – more than 30 percent in the last four years.

The report also showed that communities selected to join Zero: 2016 account for a combined 31,669 chronically homeless Americans and 16,218 homeless veterans. Community Solutions said it estimates an overlap of 10,000-12,000 between these two populations.

Zero: 2016 Director Beth Sandor said Community Solutions will work with communities to accelerate their housing efforts by providing hands-on coaching and data tools, and by curating a national peer-to-peer learning network to accelerate innovation across communities.

Zero: 2016 will align with other large-scale initiatives working to help communities end homelessness, including the 25 Cities initiative, as led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Community Solutions has coordinated extensively with VA and other federal agencies to ensure that all initiatives complement each other.

For more information about 25 Cities, visit www.25cities.com, and for more information on Zero: 2016, visit cmtysolutions.org/zero2016.

About 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero
25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero is the local arm of a federal initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness initiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The initiative focuses on collaboration between multiple private and public organizations, which include the Regional Continuum of Care Council, the entities that comprise the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, the San Diego VA and Community Solutions. For more information on 25 Cities San Diego, visit www.housingsd.org.

U-T San Diego Op-Ed: Housing First Model Benefits All San Diegans

“Let’s talk about homelessness,” begins an op-ed in Sunday’s U-T San Diego. “But wait – this time, remarkably enough, the news is promising.”

Thom Reilly, professor emeritus at SDSU’s School of Social Work, wrote the column, which discusses the benefits of the Housing First model and credits the hard work of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, a broad-based coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors, nonprofits and government.

“What they’ve found is eye-opening. It costs less to keep (homeless individuals) off the streets than to do nothing,” Reilly wrote.

Reilly notes that the number of unsheltered homeless people has decreased over the last two years. Further, the tangible benefits of reducing homelessness extend beyond those who are housed. Matching homeless individuals with appropriate housing and services helps strengthen the economy, creates jobs and eases the burden on public services.

Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO of LeSar Development Consultants; and Toni Atkins, who today is Speaker of the California State Assembly, brought the Campaign to San Diego in late 2009.

Currently, the Campaign is co-chaired by LeSar and Kris Michell, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Faulconer, Gloria Push for Improved Tech for Homeless Service Providers

The City is moving to a single software system that will streamline the ability of homeless service providers to coordinate care for the City’s homeless population.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria said in a recent statement that this approach will greatly enhance providers’ effectiveness.

mayor“By coordinating our efforts we will never miss an opportunity to connect a homeless individual or family with an open emergency bed or housing unit,” Faulconer said. “We’re using the power of technology to make real change in people’s lives. I funded this initiative because it’s a major leap forward in San Diego’s mission to end homelessness.”

“Investing in this system is essential to bringing more annual federal funds to the City and County of San Diego for homeless programs and is a critical step in delivering coordinated and efficient services to the homeless,” Gloria said.

todd GloriaThe Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) allows for improved care for the regions’ homeless by providing real-time data on individuals that will help match them with housing and identify appropriate services.

The move involves a $400,000 allocation to the San Diego Housing Commission, which will use those funds to execute an agreement with the Regional Task on the Homeless to switch three major providers – Episcopal Community Services, Father Joe’s Villages and Veterans Village of San Diego – to ServicePoint software.

“The San Diego Housing Commission is pleased to collaborate with our partners to support the ‘Housing First’ model in the City of San Diego, which is to provide housing as quickly as possible, with supportive services as needed,” said Richard C. Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission.

The move was seen as good news by St. Vincent de Paul.

“It is critical that the community have a coordinated system and St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to that,” said Ruth Bruland, Executive Director.

All providers are expected to be using the same system by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

San Diego City Council Approves Revamped Plan for Emergency Winter Shelter

beckoningThe San Diego City Council has unanimously approved funding and a new operational plan for the Single Adult Emergency Winter Shelter.

The new plan, approved earlier this month, ensures that the most vulnerable people will receive priority access to the shelter through San Diego’s Coordinated Assessment and Placement System.

Law enforcement, working with downtown social services agencies, will proactively reach out to homeless individuals on the streets. Based on vulnerability, individuals will be referred to the shelter, thereby eliminating the past system that involved a lottery and queuing.

Individuals will receive intensive case management and work with housing navigators with the intent of relocation to permanent housing.

This year, there is a 45-day maximum stay.

While the Mayor and the City Council pursue a permanent solution, these operational changes represent a new way of doing business in line with ending homelessness.

The shelter is set to open Nov. 1, 2014 on Newton Avenue and 16th Street. The Alpha Project has been operating the winter shelter since 1996.

HOT Team Receives Alonzo Award, Standing Ovation for Homeless Outreach

HOT Team

The San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) was honored with the 2014 Vic Kops Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Downtown Partnership’s annual Alonzo Awards this month.

The HOT team received the award – and a standing ovation – for its work to improve the lives of San Diego’s homeless population in Downtown.

The HOT team helps implement the tremendously successful Serial Inebriate Program, which provides a targeted solution for chronically homeless who have been arrested numerous times for public intoxication. The program offers substance abuse treatment as an alternative to jail time.

The HOT team works in partnership with nonprofits Mental Health Systems and St. Vincent de Paul Village’s Family Health Center, which provide funds and necessary substance abuse treatment to help chronically homeless individuals break the cycle of intoxication arrests.

HOT team members provide the boots on the ground by actively patrolling Downtown for chronically homeless individuals who need assistance in rebuilding their lives.

You can watch the award video here.

Congratulations to the HOT team for this much-deserved award!