SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The federal government is responding to the homelessness crisis we have seen in the United States and right here in San Diego through a new initiative called House America.
House America will use funding from the American Rescue Plan and other federal resources to immediately rehouse those experiencing homelessness and to build new affordable housing.
"If we can get federal assistance to move hundreds, if not thousands more off the street and into housing, we will do that gladly," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
Gloria joined other mayors, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in launching the effort this week.
Gloria called homelessness the most pressing issue in San Diego but said millions of dollars have been spent without getting more people off the streets.
"Probably the best example I can give you is that my predecessor spent millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase a bankrupted indoor skydiving facility, to turn it into a homeless services center with no housing in it," said Gloria. "If you want to solve homelessness, you have to provide housing."
Gloria tells ABC 10News his goal is to house 2,065 people through the partnership with HUD, using funding from the American Rescue Plan and other state and local resources. He said the city also received hundreds of housing vouchers to help people right away.
"These vouchers are evergreen, so that means we can take the 480 emergency housing vouchers and the hundred rapid rehousing vouchers and immediately house 580 families," he said.
Gloria said the city would be focusing on working with national leadership, on funding programs that do work, eliminating those that don't, and finding national best practices to invest in.
He said the city and county are also working together to open the new Safe Haven shelters that focus on helping people with serious substance abuse problems.
Gloria also said the city has a three-part vision to end homelessness by eliminating youth and veteran homelessness and reducing street homelessness by half.
HUD and USICH intives mayors, county leaders, governors and tribal nation leaders to join the House America program to address the homelessness crisis across the country.