Photo by Gregory Bull/AP
The City of San Diego is planning to build on a successful pilot program for homeless San Diegans.
Oftentimes San Diego’s homeless outreach efforts have been left to police officers, which can be dangerous for some unsheltered residents.
The Coordinated Street Outreach Program offers a different approach, using case managers to connect people with permanent housing and social services.
Homeless advocate Michael McConnell said the new initiative offers a better approach.
“What homeless outreach will do is hopefully move some of this function away from the police. Really the police are not effective at doing homelessness programs. In fact, if anything, they are probably perpetuating the issue instead of actually helping,” McConnell said.
The new program will be funded from a $1.5 million budget allocation from The City of San Diego.
San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez said this effort is the expansion of programs that began in City Heights and North Park.
“This is a continuation of shifting how we are responding to this crisis in terms of really having a more people centered approach, both by how we are reaching out to them, where we are placing them and how we are supporting them to restore their lives,” Gómez said.
The program will be administered through the San Diego Housing Commission and operated by the non-profit People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH San Diego.
Lisa Jones, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at the San Diego Housing Commission said the Coordinated Street Outreach Program will consist of two main service elements: A Rapid Response Team and a Mobile Homelessness Response Team.
“The Mobile Homelessness Response Team is really that neighborhood-based team. So, they’re focused in a particular area, building relationships with people who are unsheltered,” Jones said.
She said that the Rapid Response Team will allow social workers in specific communities to stay put with another group designated to address urgent issues and “go quickly out to someone who’s been identified needing a significant intervention, but doesn’t need to call 9-1-1 in order to get that done.”
Jones added that the program’s baseline data is aiming for “65 exits to permanent housing annually.”
The program will run from November 1 through June 30, 2021 and the Housing Commission will have the option to renew the program with PATH for another year afterwards.
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