Community and Economic Development

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

CONTACT:   Eric Symons
(619) 533-5318

Tim Graham
(619) 533-5130

City's Winter Homeless Shelter Program Closing for the Season
Annual Visual Count Also Completed As Part of Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness

SAN DIEGO - The City of San Diego will close the 2004-2005 Winter Homeless Shelter Program for the year on April 13th. The shelters opened December 15, 2004 and were extended an additional 30 days by the City Council in an effort to provide assistance during this year's prolonged rainy season. The Program began transitioning residents out of each shelter last week and is working with housing resource providers to facilitate entrance into transitional programs, permanent housing, or sober living residences.

The 2004-2005 Winter Homeless Shelter Program marked the 18th consecutive year the City of San Diego has assisted the homeless during the coldest and wettest winter months. The programs provided meals, shelter and social services, including medical and mental health attention, for up to 410 homeless San Diegans daily.

This year shelters were located at two sites, each with its own social service operator. Although the final figures are not available until after the sites close, based on preliminary reports from each site, the following profiles emerge.

Vietnam Veterans of San Diego (VVSD) served up to 150 veterans each night in the Midway/Sports Arena area. Approximately 465 unduplicated male clients accessed a variety of veteran program services through the VA Hospital, as well as community and agency provided services. Most are considered chronically homeless in that they routinely live on the street. The cost of operating this program was $219,960.

Alpha Project for the Homeless served more than 200 single adults nightly on Newton Avenue and 16th Street. Approximately 627 unduplicated clients received services at this site from community, County and agency providers. The average stay is projected to be 34 days. Operational costs for this site were $288,000.

The homeless family program was managed through a City and County collaborative with the San Diego Rescue Mission, the YWCA and Catholic Charities. The collaborative created a case managed system of services that began at the San Diego Rescue Mission's overnight emergency shelter program where families were assessed for services and vouchered and placed into hotels/motels. Families were then placed in the City's Cortez Hill Family Center and ultimately transitioned into longer term or permanent housing. Case managers coordinated placements, as well as other appropriate long-term housing, employment and income and other resources to provide stability. The City and County collaborative assisted 256 unduplicated parents and children. The family program is the only program that will continue to provide services after April 13th. Services will be provided until the $60,045 in funding is spent.

The total cost for the 2004-2005 Winter Homeless Shelter Program was $568,005, with funds from the City of San Diego, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development block grants, and the San Diego Housing Commission. Additional funding was provided by the San Diego City Council contributions and core program funding.

"The Homeless Services team would like to thank the members of City Council for their support of our programs, specifically by voting to extend the program an additional 30 days in response to the City's difficult winter," said Sharon Johnson, Homeless Services administrator. "We will continue to work with public and private organizations to help provide critical services to those who need it most and help break the cycle of chronic homelessness in San Diego."

It is expected that more than 1,500 hours of supportive services, will have been provided by shelter operators, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and other agencies. Services provided included medical and mental health care, employment and housing referrals and substance abuse recovery programs.

Additionally, the City's Homeless Services Program, in conjunction with the Police Department, recently completed a count of the visible chronic homeless in San Diego in an effort to help officials and the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless (RTFH) understand the ongoing requirements for the homeless in the City of San Diego and to ensure continued federal funding of programs.

While the numbers of chronically homeless appear to have remained the same from last year, changing economic impacts affecting those who might not otherwise become homeless is expected to create an increase. Factors such as the lack of affordable housing for very low- to low-income families and individuals, as well as reduced funding for rental assistance programs can contribute to people becoming transitionally or temporarily homeless.

The San Diego region is currently focused on how to more effectively deal with the number of homeless people in the area. The region has over 7,000 urban homeless men, women and children as reported in the most recent Regional Task Force on the Homeless Profile (July 2004). Of these, it is estimated that over 1,300 (29%) are single adults who qualify as chronically homeless. The City currently has approximately 2,000 year-round shelter beds.

The City of San Diego, County of San Diego and the United Way of San Diego County have entered into a joint agreement to promote the development of San Diego's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness for the region. The plan will provide a coordinated and consolidated approach to reducing the number of chronically homeless people in the region, thus reducing the financial impact of their recidivism on shelters, jails, healthcare systems and emergency transportation. It will maximize existing systems and save resources by developing a coordinated plan that will make San Diego more successful in accessing its share of available local, state, federal and private funding competitions.

For more information on the County of San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency, contact County offices at (619) 338-2799. For more information on volunteering for the regional effort to end chronic homeless, contact the United Way at (858) 492-2000. To find out how to make contributions or volunteer to help the homeless in the City of San Diego, visit the City's web site. For additional information on the City of San Diego's Homeless Services Program, contact the Community and Economic Development Department at (619) 236-5990.

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