by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

The San Diego Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a $10 million in one-time grants to help the region combat homelessness and access a state program helping homeless youth. 

The Board of Supervisors' 4-0 vote comes after the Regional Task Force on Homelessness released its 2022 WeAllCounty Point-in-Time Count, which found at minimum, 8,427 people in the region are experiencing homelessness. Volunteers collected the one-day snapshot of this minimum number in early February. The data showed a 10 percent increase in the homeless population throughout the region since 2020. 

Supervisor Joel Anderson was absent from Tuesday's meeting due to illness, according to the county board clerk.

County officials say the fund will create a $10 million Capital Emergency Housing Solutions Grant Program in which 18 of the incorporated cities in the region can apply for funding to create new emergency housing solutions within their jurisdictions. 

The funds will come from the county budget, while the state of California funds the Homeless, Housing, Assistance, and Prevention program. The County board of supervisors approved the Framework for Ending Homelessness last year, which the grant program is a part of. 

“We are excited to invite our community partners to submit creative proposals that help address homelessness in their cities,” Barbara Jiménez, community operations officer, County Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities said in a press release. “We look forward to working with partners and to the creation of new sustainable overnight shelter solutions for people experiencing homelessness.”

According to the County’s Chief Administrative Officer, Helen Robins-Meyer’s office, multiple projects may be submitted by each city municipality, but each will be evaluated independently, and proposed projects with the earliest operational date will be prioritized first.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said Tuesday's action “is a continuation of our commitment to work with other regional leaders to make progress on the most pressing issues our community is facing. We're in the fight, and we're not backing down.''

The grants may support the city jurisdictions in kick-starting new projects that result in long-term and sustainable overnight shelter solutions, including but not limited to emergency shelters, safe parking lots, sleeping cabins, tiny homes, or expanded capacity of an existing emergency shelter.

The county expects the program to open within the next couple of weeks. Eligible jurisdictions will receive notification of the application window opening. 

According to Fletcher's office, applicants must follow these guidelines:
   — a municipality may submit multiple projects, but each will be evaluated on an independent basis;
   — award notification should be announced 30 days after the application period closes;
   — applications will be accepted during a 30-day period.
   — additional application periods will be opened until all the funds are spent; and
   — projects with the earliest operational date will be considered first.
   The HHAP funds will cover:
   — Housing Our Youth, an integrated care coordination program designed to provide homeless youth with immediate housing and wraparound support, which officials say has served 267 young people, and permanently housed 108 of them, as of March 2022;
   — Community Harm Reduction Teams, which focuses on San Diego's Midway and East Village neighborhoods and homeless residents suffering from substance use and related mental health issues by connecting them with behavioral health services, temporary shelter, permanent housing, and other services; and
   — Community Harm Reduction Safe Haven, a collaborative effort with
the city of San Diego to provide transitional housing based on harm-reduction
principles and offer behavioral health support.

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