The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved adopting a federal strategic plan and identifying solutions to reduce the number of unhoused people in East County.
The County’s Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer is directed to review and incorporate relevant programs of the federal government’s “All In” plan into the county’s existing program. Robbins-Meyer is also directed to identify available county-owned land that can be used for emergency housing solutions.
An update will be presented to the board within 120 days.
A Framework for Ending Homelessness was approved by the County Board of Supervisors last November that aims to “align the existing work throughout the region to assist people experiencing homelessness or at-risk experiencing homelessness with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness,” according to a board letter.
The Biden administration released the “All In” plan last December which proposes a 25% reduction in homelessness in the United States by 2025 by re-committing strategies such as the “housing first” model. According to County Chairwoman Nora Vargas, the plan allows for collaboration, and solutions are needed from cities throughout the region.
Supervisor Joel Anderson in a separate proposal directs the CAO Robbins-Meyer to conduct a feasibility analysis to determine the potential to site or convert a hotel in unincorporated East County dedicated to addressing the lack of shelter capacity and reducing homelessness through the acceptance of vouchers. The proposal also authorizes Robbins-Meyer to issue a Request for Information (RFI) to gauge the interest of developers and potential hotel/program operators to manage the proposed hotel.
Anderson's office also requested that the lodging project be exempt from the state Environmental Quality Act guidelines because it won't have a significant environmental impact.
According to the 2022 annual Point in Time Count, there are over 8,427 individuals currently experiencing homelessness across San Diego County. East County is second only to the City of San Diego in the number of homeless individuals living in a particular area.
Last year’s Countywide PIT count numbers were ten percent higher than the 2020 figures, indicating that more people are continuing to fall into homelessness. According to local officials, that number is likely lower than the true number of people who are unhoused.
While the county has set up safe parking lots and moved forward with temporary cabins, “we need to do more,'' Anderson said, adding the standard hotel/motel voucher system makes it harder to provide more comprehensive services for those in need.
Increased hotel lodging "would give us the ability to actually have many people who need the same services (in) a cluster of where we can help them,'' while moving towards a more permanent solution.