San Diego County considers $100 million for homelessness crisis

San Diego County considers $100 million for homelessness crisis
Posted at 7:17 PM, May 13, 2024

Tents, easy ups, some with doors, some with solar panels. All of them make shift homes for those living along the Sweet Water River. The county is looking to spend close to eight million dollars to address the needs of people living along the riverbeds looking for help. It's part of the nearly $100 million being proposed in the county budget to help people experiencing homelessness.

Deacon Jim Vargas at Father Joe's Villages says many of them are struggling with behavioral and mental health issues.

"We know that about a third of the population of those who are homeless have some level of substance abuse disorder," Vargas said. "They need to be helped, and right now the system isn't helping them effectively."

The budget calls for $44 million to address immediate housing needs of those with behavioral health issues and almost $10 million to mental health services. It doesn't completely explain exactly what those services would entail, but Deacon Vargas is advocating for treatment of substance abuse illnesses.

"We would appreciate funding to help us designate beds as detox beds and move people out of there into recovery beds as well, and then into housing," Vargas said.

The budget proposal also lays out funding to continue a rental subsidy program that supports seniors staying in their homes. Paul Downey at Serving Seniors says this program has already made a huge impact.

"We see that it is preventing homelessness from occurring. It's a relatively modest investment to prevent as opposed to long term impact," Downey said.

Serving Seniors and Father Joe's Villages are both hopeful for a portion of the budget to support their work in the community, but homeless advocates are still holding their breath. The county will revise this proposal with public input over the next month.