San Diego advocates want more from President Trump's homeless plan

Posted at 5:45 PM, Sep 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-11 21:23:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The White House announced Tuesday that it would start cracking down on what the President calls the "California Homeless Takeover."

The administration's plans include destroying tents on the street and relocating the homeless population to government facilities. Some local homeless advocates said the plan lacks details and direction.

Underneath arguably some of the most expensive condos in San Diego is a place people go to live, rent-free.

"I think it gives people the opportunity to stabilize and get ready for the next step in their life," Alpha Project Chief Operating Officer Amy Gonyeau said. "Address the issues that are causing them to become homeless."

The Alpha Project's Bridge Shelter helps keep 325 people from sleeping on the streets every night. Still, there are nearly 8,000 others in San Diego County without a home. In Los Angeles County, there are 50,000 homeless. The numbers were so astounding, President Trump vowed to intercede. He plans to take down tents on the streets and place the homeless into government-backed facilities.

"We just can't play Whack-A-Mole and move people from the sidewalk to jail, to tents, to a government facility," independent homeless advocate Michael McConnell said.

McConnell said he believes the President's plan is far too vague.

"Whether it's a shared housing model, whether short-term or long-term rental assistance, whether it is actually building a brick and mortar supportive housing for some folks, it takes all of these interventions," McConnell said.

Gonyeau says representatives from Los Angeles have visited more than a dozen times to study their Bridge Shelter and their seventeen wrap-around services.

"They want to replicate this model," Gonyeau said. "I know they are going to do that in LA, and some other cities as well."

It has become a temporary relief that has helped hundreds of people cycle out of homelessness. But McConnell says this is not enough.

"I would redirect a lot of the money that we are currently spending on Band-Aids," McConnell said. "I would redirect that into rental assistance in housing dollars so that we can start nibbling away at this deficit."

At the end of the day, both McConnell and Gonyeau say California needs more housing, not just affordable housing, but low-income housing. If the President's plan has that as an end goal, both say they are on board.

"We have a very large unsheltered homeless population in California, and we have an incredible affordable housing crisis here. Those go hand-in-hand," McConnell said.

10News learned that the city would be opening a fourth Bridge Shelter in the next two weeks to help the needs of the local homeless population.