City of San Diego to increase homeless outreach, address encampments along San Diego River

$3.6M state grant will fund outreach efforts with the goal of transitioning people into housing

SAN DIEGO – As part of an ongoing effort to bring people experiencing homelessness off the street and connect them to supportive services and housing, the City of San Diego plans to conduct additional cleanup and outreach to unsheltered individuals living in encampments along the San Diego River. This collaborative encampment project is made possible with approximately $17 million in state grant funding awarded last June to the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, City of Santee and California Department of Transportation, with $3.6 million allocated to the city.

On Tuesday, March 19, staff from the city’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department (HSSD) presented their project plan to the San Diego City Council. HSSD staff propose spending $950,000 on contracted outreach teams, $1.3 million for rental subsidies and $1.2 million for case management/housing navigation services.

“This state funding has been instrumental in our ongoing efforts to get people off the streets and into care,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “By clearing unsafe encampments along our river and connecting residents to housing, we’re not only improving public health and safety, but also fostering a sense of dignity and stability for those in need.”

The grant funding is part of the state’s Encampment Resolution Funding Program (ERF). The city was previously awarded two ERF grants including one to address encampments near a portion of I-15 in the City Heights area and another to address encampments along a portion of E Street in East Village.

“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis for those on the streets and often has unacceptable impacts on the broader community – that is why we must aggressively pursue the resources to effectively address homelessness,” said City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera. “I’m grateful for our partnership with Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department to win state funding that will alleviate the suffering of those without homes and relieve neighborhoods from the health and safety issues that can arise from encampments. This funding will support long-term solutions using a data-driven, persistent and compassionate approach to ultimately connect neighbors with homes.”

The State of California grant will help cover the costs of rental housing, supportive services and outreach efforts to address encampments along the river.

Outreach workers will use a person-centered, compassionate approach and offer services tailored to the specific needs of individuals including access to case management, health education, public benefits, mental health and substance abuse treatment, primary care referrals, and access to hygiene kits, transportation and basic essentials. Between the city’s efforts, the county and City of Santee, the funding is estimated to transition 168 people into permanent or long-term housing.

“This grant funding is critical in our effort to move people from unsafe living conditions in sensitive areas like the San Diego River to safe sleeping sites or emergency bridge shelters.” said City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn. “These locations have supportive services to help people address their homelessness crisis and begin the process of finding appropriate housing.”

The ERF program is a competitive grant that aims to assist local jurisdictions in ensuring the safety and wellness of people experiencing homelessness in encampments; resolve critical encampment concerns and transition individuals into safe and stable housing; and encourage a data-informed, coordinated approach.

(City of SD Release) n

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