Any city in San Diego County that will open a new homeless shelter will receive a variety of services funded by the county under a memorandum of understanding proposed Monday.
At the MOA, proposed for all 18 county towns, Supervisory Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the new shelters would be provided by county behavioral health services, health education, infectious disease research tools and human services professionals to help homeless people get benefits and resources for nutrition, finance, and health.
In return the city would agree to pay for staff, three meals a day, security, hygiene, storage, cleaning and general operating and maintenance costs. People in the shelters will also have access to showers, toilets and laundry services.
As an incentive for these cities, Fletcher said the proposed $ 10 million grant program to fund new shelters would be submitted for ratification by the Supervisory Board for ratification on May 24. Funding for one-time grants will help cities open shelters, safe campsites, and tiny homes. or other programs that would rid people of the street.
“If we allocate these grants, we will look for which cities can move quickly,” Fletcher said of how funding will be determined. “Who can set things up quickly. Who can save people from the street and get them the necessary help and services. “
Fletcher said the priority for funding will be shelters that can work in months, not years.
“My messages to mayors and managers this morning were,‘ Start getting your ideas, start getting plots of land and what you can do there, ’” he said.
A memorandum of understanding was presented to the mayor on Monday during an intergovernmental roundtable of the regional task force on homelessness. The virtual meeting was attended by representatives of all county towns except Coronada, Encinitas, Poway and Imperial Beach.
Mayor Alejandra Sotella-Solis was not present at the roundtable, but said it was brief from the assistant mayor who was there.
“That’s what we need,” she said of the county’s shelter service agreement. “We need comprehensive services. We can’t just say, “Here’s the voucher.” Do they need mental health services? Do they have an identity card? ”
Satellite-Solis said she was also delighted with the $ 10 million grant program.
“I know it’s one-time funding and it’s a problem,” she said. “However, if we want to fight homeless and homeless people, we need to throw everything at it and try to make everything work.”
Homeless lawyer Michael McConnell said he was not too impressed with the county’s offer to provide services, as that is what they expect.
He really appreciated that teaching services in advance could simplify the process, and said it could help the process of taking people off the streets.
Although McConnell has always advocated for more housing rather than shelter, he said he likes the idea of encouraging more cities to open shelters to help people in their communities.
“I’ve always been a fan of smaller shelters that spread across the county,” he said, adding that the homeless usually want to stay in their cities. “I certainly welcome and encourage cities to take advantage of this.”
The largest shelters in the county are in downtown San Diego, where there are also the largest sidewalk camps. The last count, which was conducted every month Downtown San Diego Partnership found that 1,474 people lived on the streets in April, a significant increase from 875 in April 2021 and the highest monthly partnership rate dates back to January 2012.
However, homelessness is found throughout San Diego County, and there are signs that it has increased. A long line of vans used as temporary homes, along streets north of the Old Town, camps scattered in canyons, on river banks and in an area known as the South Bay Jungle, and tents can be seen on bridges and near ramps in many cities .
The Regional Task Force on Homelessness found that the number of people who first encountered the homeless nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, from about 2,300 to 4,100.
The last count across the county took place in January 2020 and found 7,619 homeless people, more than half of whom are homeless. The last count was made in February, and the results are expected to be released next week.
Fletcher said the county has already worked with the city of San Diego on various projects to help the homeless, but the problem affects cities across the county and will require a lot of jurisdictional effort to address.
“The situation on the street requires that we continue to look for all possible ways to create more housing, safer parking, safer camping,” he said. “And we can do it much faster.”
MOA is different from a memorandum of understanding considered El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Guy in Santi. In this memorandum of understanding outlined by President Joel Anderson last week, the four cities will work together to find places for emergency and long-term housing for the homeless.
Tamer Kohler, director general of the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness, called the proposed memorandum of agreement transformational, providing a clear list of what the county will provide new services.
Color said she also liked the flexibility she provided to cities by offering grant funding for various shelters.
“It allows each community to address homelessness on an individual scale,” she said.
Some cities in San Diego County are already taking steps to open their first shelters. Oceanside plans to open it by the end of this year, and the San Diego rescue mission plans to open a shelter in National City next year.
In National City, the nonprofit Amikas is building small homes for homeless mothers and their children, Chula Vista is creating a shelter with prefabricated structures, and Vista is considering opening its first shelter.
Fletcher said it would be interesting to see which cities are eligible for the grant, and he hopes the county will be overflowing with proposals for projects that can be implemented quickly.
He also said he hoped the “not in my backyard” attitude, which has been a hindrance to many services for the homeless, is fading as more people demand a solution to the problem.