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Study: local homeless struggling to stay in housing

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Posted at 3:25 PM, Dec 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-25 18:25:02-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - From home to homeless for the holidays? A recent study reveals many who have found housing in the region are struggling to stay in their homes.

"It's a very different experience to be within four walls. Not easy after being on streets for many years," said Deacon Jim Vargas, who heads Father Joe's Villages.

According to a recent study by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, 14% of people who had overcome homelessness were back on the streets after six months, the highest percentage for any of the West Coast counties studied. When that time period is extended to two years, the percentage returning to homeless is 27%. Deacon Vargas says the success rate at Father Joe's Villages is considerably better.

"Those we help into permanent supportive housing, 100% of them stay housed for an extended period of time. What we've found that makes all the difference in the world is the wraparound services," said Vargas.

Those include services for issues affecting some of the homeless population, including substance abuse and mental health conditions.

"It's not just a matter of placing the individual in a unit and then walking away. That's not going to be successful," said Vargas.

Vargas also points to their growing vocational program for a wide range of jobs. Last year, they graduated 144 students with more than 180 job offers. The wraparound services will be front and center when Father Joe's Villages breaks ground on a 400-unit housing project next month on the site of the East Village bridge shelter.

"It's about giving them the support that they need," said Vargas.

The San Diego City Council will soon weigh putting a $900 million housing bond on the November ballot. It would provide permanent housing for 2,500 people, including wraparound services