A pilot program to help low-income seniors at risk of homelessness was approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The program was introduced by supervisors Joel Anderson and Terra Lawson-Remer to provide subsidies of about $300 to low-income seniors at risk of homelessness. The board approved several items to address homelessness in the county.
A plan for emergency solutions for homeless people, including sites equipped with safe parking, camping lots, and sleeping cabins was also approved by the board. According to San Diego's 2020 Point in Time Count, one out of four of San Diego's homeless adults is over the age of 55. According to the supervisors, 2,000 older adults are actively homeless, a number that is projected to triple over the next decade
”We want to keep San Diego residents in their homes,” Anderson said. “Many older adults living on fixed incomes have to choose between paying rent and covering necessary expenses such as food, transportation, and medical costs. Early prevention programs, like this one, lead to better life outcomes and long-term cost savings.”
The board reported that San Diego’s regional housing supply has not met the growing needs of low-income older adults. Currently, there are 68,000 individuals on the San Diego County Housing Choice Voucher wait-list and nearly 40,000 individuals on the wait-list for Project-Based vouchers, according to the supervisors.
According to Anderson and Lawson-Remer, a few hundred dollars per month may prevent half of the older adults surveyed in the Serving Seniors Homeless Needs Assessment from experiencing homelessness. It takes between $2,500 to $6,000 per person to fund emergency shelter services per month.
Supervisors suggested the county include stimulus funds and American Rescue Plan Act funds dedicated to homelessness solutions as a potential funding source. The county staff was tasked with developing a pilot program to provide subsidies to a limited number of people age 55 and older who are considered at risk of homelessness and are actively seeking affordable housing or housing vouchers with possibilities of expansion if successful.