Nearly $12 million in federal funds was approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to help homeless individuals or those at risk of homelessness.
The federal funds will be distributed by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), which Congress in March 2021 to assist those struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HUD allocated the money to local governments as part of its HOME Investment Partnership program. According to board Chairman Nathan Fletcher's office, the money will help develop around 100 permanent housing units by working with existing projects to make more units within them affordable-rate housing.
The county received $11.8 million in HOME-ARP funds on April 8, 2021, in the HOME-ARP fund, according to Fletcher’s office. As a result, the county had to identify its needs and funding priorities for submission to HUD as an amendment to its fiscal year 2021-22 plan.
Fletcher said the county is “leveraging every resource available to keep people in their homes and get people who are already on the street off of them.''
According to the county, data found that the region’s special needs populations are particularly vulnerable to housing instability. Approximately 25 percent of the region’s population with a disability lives under 125 percent of the federal poverty line and housing was the top concern for the region’s more than 7,500 transition-aged youth.
During Tuesday's board meeting, Supervisor Joel Anderson asked if the money could also go toward helping homeless shelter projects already in progress.
“In my district, people would rather see people off the sidewalks than new sidewalks because the shelters are a much more appropriate place for people to be,” Anderson said.
David Estrella, the county's Housing and Development Services director, said that was possible, and the proposal supports the county's framework for ending homelessness. According to the county, that framework includes five strategic domains: upstream prevention strategies, diversion and mitigation services, treatment and outreach, emergency shelter, and permanent housing.
“This supports the County’s vision of a just, sustainable, and resilient future for all, specifically those communities and populations in San Diego County that have been historically left behind, as well as our ongoing commitment to the regional Live Well San Diego vision of healthy, safe and thriving communities,” the county wrote in a statement.
As part of the development of the HOME-ARP Cost Allocation Plan, the County consulted with over 45 regional stakeholder organizations, hosted a public listening session, and analyzed updated housing and homelessness data.