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

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.

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, and for more information on Zero: 2016, visit

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

Celebrating 1 Year of Connections Housing

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Today we celebrated the 1st anniversary of Connections Housing in Downtown San Diego. This service and residential community has successfully reduced street homelessness in the downtown neighborhoods by helping the homeless move into permanent housing.

San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria said, “in its first year, this year-round homeless services center has made a positive impact, including reducing street homeless by 70% within a quarter mile of the building. I’m hopeful we can expand this results-focused project in other parts of our city.”

Take a closer look at the success of Connections Housing in ending chronic homelessness (all of this was accomplished in just 1 year):

  • 70% decrease in street homelessness within quarter mile radius of Connections Housing
  • 98% housing retention rate sustained for 89 on-site permanent supportive housing units
  • 69% placement rate into permanent and longer-term housing achieved for individuals who have exited the PATH/Alpha Interim Housing Program
  • 15,000 service appointments provided in the PATH Depot Multi-Service Center
  • 123 homeless veterans assisted with securing employment
  • 12,000 medical and mental health visits provided by Family Health Centers of San Diego_photo 2

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VA Invests $600 Million in Veteran Homelessness


Last week, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) that allocates $600 million from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to organizations and programs committed to serving Veteran families who are homeless or at high-risk of homelessness.

In order for veteran families to receive assistance under this initiative, they must be very low-income and occupying permanent housing, in the process of entering permanent housing, or exiting permanent housing for housing that better fits their needs.

The SSVF program promotes the housing first model for ending homelessness, in which permanent housing and supportive services are provided for the homeless to achieve stability.

This funding support from the VA will allow cities to continue making progress in ending Veteran homelessness.

Phoenix Has Ended Chronic Veteran Homelessness

Photo Credit: The Atlantic Cities

Photo Credit: The Atlantic Cities

The Atlantic Cities, an online news outlet, recently reported that “Phoenix has effectively ended chronic veteran homelessness…a lofty-sounding policy goal that no other U.S. city has achieved.”

Phoenix did this by “prioritizing housing first, then wrapping other services around it,” which is a national best practice for addressing homelessness. Efforts are underway in San Diego to grow our permanent supportive housing stock and undertake similar efforts to end homelessness.

The White House congratulated Phoenix and Mayor Stanton “for their accelerated efforts and for their investments in ending chronic homelessness” and encouraged “mayors and cities across the country [to] follow the outstanding example set by Phoenix and join in on this important effort.”

If Phoenix can do it, so can San Diego!

San Diego Board of Port Commissioners Supports Homelessness Best Practices

PortLast month, the Board of Commissioners for the San Diego Unified Port District took action in favor of homelessness best practices.

In his presentation at the Board meeting, Chief of Harbor Police John Bolduc, noted that the areas around the Port have seen an increase in homelessness in the past few years, as measured by police calls for assistance and homeless census counts.

After Chief Bolduc concluded his presentation, the Board unanimously directed staff to conduct further assessment on the impacts of homelessness to the Port District; investigate efforts of adjacent cities and the County to address homelessness; and to prepare a “Homelessness Best Practices Policy Recommendation” for the Board of Port Commissioners.

Our Campaign Coordinator, Jennifer LeSar, was the first public speaker on this item and she congratulated the Port on getting more involved in ending homelessness.  She noted, “the involvement of all stakeholders is needed in order for our region to get everyone off the street and into housing.”

County Board of Supervisors Promotes Homelessness Volunteerism

CountyAt the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting on December 3rd 2013, Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts proposed that the County promote volunteerism for the annual WeALLCount/Point-in-Time Count, an event that gathers estimates on the number of unsheltered and sheltered homeless persons living in San Diego County.

The event results in service providers having a better understanding and ability to address homelessness throughout the region.

Motioned by Supervisor Ron Roberts and seconded by Supervisor Dave Roberts, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to allow County employees to participate in the annual PITC on January 24, 2014 and receive compensation on County time.

Collaborations are happening all across the country as we join hands to assess the scope of homelessness in the nation and to strategically craft effective solutions to end homelessness.

PRESS RELEASE: Campaign Achieves Major Milestones

Campaign Achieves Major Milestones and Significant Progress in Ending Homelessness 

Becomes Member of 2.5 Percent Club and Celebrates Three Year Anniversary 

Group Shot Resized

San Diego, CA (July 18, 2013)The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego is pleased to announce significant milestones in its work to end homelessness. Today, the Campaign has become a member of the 2.5 Percent Club, and the Campaign is celebrating its third anniversary.

The 2.5 Percent Club is part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, and consists of an exclusive group of communities that have achieved significant progress in ending homelessness.  Members of the 2.5 Percent Club are deemed to be “high-performing” and “on track to end homelessness” by the national 100,000 Homes Campaign.

For four months in a row now, our community has housed homeless people at an average of 2.5% of San Diego’s baseline chronic and vulnerable homeless populations.

“Achieving this milestone is remarkable,” stated Robin Madaffer, Co-Chair of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego.  “This is the difference between talking about ending homelessness and actually doing it!”

Becky Kanis, 100,000 Homes Campaign Director, stated “We are thrilled to welcome San Diego into the 2.5 Percent Club as one of the highest performing communities participating in the 100,000 Homes Campaign, and we’re counting on their leadership and expertise to help more communities make it in!

This month, the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego is also celebrating its third anniversary. The Campaign’s Leadership Team has been meeting monthly from July 2010 to July 2013 to work together to end homelessness in downtown San Diego.

Over 565 formerly homeless individuals have been taken off the streets due to the Campaign’s efforts. Mayor Bob Filner stated, “With our partners at the County, the VA, the San Diego Housing Commission, the Downtown San Diego Partnership, Connections Housing, and local service providers, San Diego is proving that we can create lasting solutions that can end homelessness.”

Rick Gentry, President and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission stated, “I’m very proud that the San Diego Housing Commission has played a critical role in this campaign by directing 286 federal housing vouchers to assist homeless individuals and veterans. Partnerships are essential to ending homelessness. We look forward to continuing our partnership in this campaign.”

The Campaign is now ready to scale up our successful strategies and efforts. We aim to completely end homelessness for the remaining people that live on the streets of downtown San Diego.  The Campaign aspires to reach this goal by 2015.

“With our unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination of resources, the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego is demonstrating that, working together, the San Diego community can house, support, and end homelessness,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

About The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego

The Campaign is a collaborative funding effort and an effective place-based strategy to end homelessness in downtown San Diego. It is a part of the National 100,000 Homes Campaign that has housed over 50,000 people since July 2010, and is guided by a local Leadership Team with more than 60 members, including key partners from:

  • The U.S Department of Veteran Affairs San Diego Healthcare System;
  • The County of San Diego and its Health and Human Services Agency;
  • The City of San Diego and its two agencies, the San Diego Housing Commission and Civic San Diego;
  • LeSar Development Consultants, the Campaign initiator and neutral convener;
  • United Way of San Diego County, the County’s regional leadership entity on ending homelessness; and
  • Individual and corporate donors, downtown business leaders, elected officials, public safety officers, hospitals and health clinics, local universities, philanthropy, advocates for veterans, and experts in affordable housing, supportive services, homelessness, and workforce development.

The Campaign’s mission is to end homelessness downtown with the strategy of moving the most vulnerable members of our community off the streets and into permanent affordable housing and linking them to rental assistance and supportive services.  This Housing First model is a nationally proven strategy for the homeless to leave the streets, achieve housing stability, and become integrated members of San Diego’s community.

For more information, visit, or “like” the Campaign on Facebook.


Gretchen Kinney Newsom

LeSar Development Consultants

(619) 236-0612 x106

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May 28 Campaign Newsletter

Dear Campaign Supporters and Partners

This past Memorial Day, we remembered and honored the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  We continue with our commitment to help the hundreds of veterans who are struggling with homelessness in our community.

Significant progress has been made in housing veterans in the last year:

However, there is more work to be done in ending veteran homelessness.  The results of the 2013 Point-in-Time Count showed that roughly 15% of the 8,879 homeless individuals counted in the San Diego Region are veterans – this equates to approximately 1,330 homeless veterans in the region!

We will continue to highlight best efforts and practices to end homelessness for our veterans and other persons residing on the streets in San Diego.  Thank you for your continued support and involvement in the Campaign.


Jennifer LeSar, Campaign Coordinator

Robin Madaffer, Campaign Leadership Team Co-Chair