by Photo courtesy of Horacio Renteria

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal to develop a plan that aims to end veteran homelessness in the region. 

County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas brought a proposal that would establish ending veteran homelessness as a policy priority for the Board of Supervisors. It directs County staff to work internally and externally to end veteran homelessness in the region. 

The plan could be ready in April, and feature input from community groups, government representatives, and people who have experienced homelessness. The county will also work with partners to find additional resources, remove housing barriers for veterans, offer vouchers, and quickly match veterans with housing.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 13% of the general population is Black, but Black individuals make up 39% of people experiencing homelessness in the United States. County officials say these statistics are reflected locally. 

During San Diego’s 2022 Point in Time Count from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness found that 24% of individuals identified as Black or African Americans, which is nearly five times the proportion of that population in the region. Additionally, 3% of those counted identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, which is nearly three times the rate in the general population. 

The Point in time Count also found that 686 individuals were veterans experiencing homelessness, accounting for over eight percent of the total unhoused individuals in the region. 

According to the board letter, Veterans who have experienced combat are more likely to be homeless and report difficulty entering the workforce than non-veteran employees. Many need other support and accommodation for those living with service-related disabilities, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Fletcher, a Marine Corps combat veteran, on Jan. 20 announced the proposal during an event with veterans and homeless advocates.

“In recent years we have started to see the veteran homelessness number decline in San Diego, and now is the time we must accelerate the efforts to functionally end veteran homelessness,'' Fletcher said in a statement. “I am ready to put in the work.''

Board Chairwoman Vargas said the county has “a responsibility to take care of those who served our country, and we must invest in programs that will help our veterans thrive when they integrate into civilian life.''

Last month, supervisors approved more help for veterans coming out of the justice system who are at risk of becoming homeless or living on the streets.

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