SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The city is nearly doubling the number of social workers deployed on its streets to help tackle homelessness. Mayor Todd Gloria said Wednesday this is the best way to help San Diego’s most vulnerable get on their feet.
Jessie Angeles Junior is one of those workers. He goes out in San Diego connecting homeless people in the city with key services that can get them shelter, treatment, and public benefits to name a few.
All, as the region grapples with the pandemic.
“There's places they can’t go,” Angeles said. “The same issues that they had before Covid, it’s amplified a little bit more. That anxiety is there.”
Angeles is a program manager at PATH, a nonprofit taking a lead role in the city's new approach to homelessness. The city is roughly doubling the number of social workers deployed onto its streets, as part of a shift toward improving coordination within outreach teams and service providers.
“Our old system did not give that outreach worker many options,” Gloria said. “It might have allowed that outreach worker to offer a bottle of water, maybe a pair of socks or some referral information, but that isn't the way to build trust and to drive change on this important issue."
San Diego Police would still maintain its homeless outreach team. However, PATH, would have two teams of social workers, one mobile in areas with high homelessness, and another to respond rapidly to calls.
The city budgeted $1.5 million dollars for the response. In January 2020, before the pandemic, nearly 4,000 people were estimated to be unsheltered in San Diego.