Gloria: San Diego homeless funding should be redirected to effective programs

Mayoral candidates plan to back idea

SAN DIEGO - Interim Mayor Todd Gloria proposed redirecting $1.9 million in general fund money to programs proved effective in reducing homelessness in San Diego.

Gloria said at a news conference on Thursday that the amount of money was budgeted for extending the operations of the city's two winter shelters, but could be used more efficiently elsewhere to care for an estimated 5,700 homeless people—about 3,100 of whom live on the streets.

"I know that there's a better way of using that money that will result in greater progress towards ending homelessness," Gloria said.

His seven-point plan includes:

  • spending $800,000 to improve assessment and case management of the homeless at the winter shelters;
  • providing $400,000 towards a coordinated intake and assessment system that will be used by the area's housing and service organizations, a step required to tap nearly $16 million in federal funding;
  • restoring $120,000 in previous cuts to the Serial Inebriate Program, which serves chronic homeless alcoholics who cycle through detoxification centers, county jails and hospital emergency rooms;
  • giving $80,000 to the Neil Good Day Center, where the homeless can make phone calls, take showers and use computers, and is often the first place they contact social service providers;
  • spending $40,000 so that representatives of service organizations can take part in the San Diego Police Department's Homeless Outreach Teams;
  • allocating $150,000 to fully fund a storage facility where the downtown homeless leave their belongings while they look for work or go to doctor appointments; and
  • filling a funding gap of $400,000 at Connections Housing, which provides shelter, along with medical, mental health and drug counseling services for the downtown homeless. The deficit is the result of a need for more intensive services at the facility, according to Gloria.

The homeless storage facility, operated by the nonprofit Girls Think Tank, has been in danger of being shut down because Father Joe's Villages, which owns the site at 1610 Commercial St., needs to use the property. More than 300 homeless use the facility.

The interim mayor said a new location might be announced soon.

Last year, Mayor Bob Filner tried to keep the winter shelters—for single adults at 16th Street and Newton Avenue, and for veterans at 4141 Pacific Highway—open year-round, but the plan was never accompanied by
funding.

Gloria said the programs for which he wants to add funding have shown better results.

The winter shelters are due to close at the end of March, he said.

"It is my intention to work with our next mayor and with the City Council so that these allocations are include in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which will be considered this spring," Gloria said.

The 2015 fiscal year begins July 1.

A majority of the City Council, including mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer, said they back the plans, according to Gloria.

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