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Mayor Gloria Releases Matthew Doherty Report on City’s Homelessness Strategies


Thursday, July 1, 2021


PDF icon Matthew Doherty’s report to the Mayor


SAN DIEGO – As part of his goal to end chronic homelessness in San Diego and ensure the City’s efforts are in line with best practices, Mayor Todd Gloria today released a comprehensive report by Matthew Doherty, the former executive director for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), that includes key findings and recommendations to strengthen the City’s capacity to prevent and end homelessness.

“After taking office as Mayor, I wasted no time in bringing on Mr. Doherty to give me a warts-and-all assessment of the City’s current homelessness efforts,” said Mayor Gloria. “His analysis is already guiding our administration’s new approach on homelessness and helps ensure we are set up for success to achieve our ultimate goal: ending chronic homelessness in San Diego.”

Mayor Gloria retained Doherty’s consulting services in January, soon after announcing in his Jan. 13 State of the City address that he would be doing so.

“Mayor Gloria and his team have been extremely open to my assessment of how the City of San Diego has approached its work through the years and my identification of gaps in current capacity and expertise,” Doherty said. “I am confident that by addressing these findings and implementing these recommendations, the City can, right now, seize its leadership responsibilities in more purposeful and proactive ways and deliver greater progress for the community and, most importantly, people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.”

His report details four main findings:

  • Internal Capacity and Expertise: The Mayor’s Office and the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department currently lack adequate capacity, documentation of activities, and expertise to achieve [the Mayor’s] vision of driving progress on homelessness through best practices, proactive leadership by the City, and purposeful and strategic partnerships with the San Diego Housing Commission, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the County of San Diego, and other important partners. There is a need to create and recruit for additional, senior-level positions to both expand capacity in key strategic areas, to increase the City’s in-house expertise on homelessness policies, strategies, and solutions, and to address findings described within this memorandum.
  • Clarity of Vision, Strategies, Roles, and Decision-Making: The Mayor’s Office and the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department currently lack a clearly communicated narrative or vision that expresses [the Mayor] and the City’s strategic approaches and priorities, that differentiates those approaches from prior administrations, that delineates roles and responsibilities alongside key partners, and that drives action across the full range of necessary responses to homelessness.
  • Internal and External Partnerships and Collaboration: The Mayor’s Office and the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department need to strengthen internal partnerships, across City departments and teams, and external partnerships with key organizations, housing and service providers, and with people with lived expertise from current and past experiences of homelessness, to strengthen the implementation of City activities and programs, and to improve alignment with best practices and with [the Mayor’s] prioritization of addressing homelessness.
  • Strengths and Opportunities: There is an openness and eagerness for [the Mayor’s] leadership and expertise on homelessness as Mayor, and for more proactive, strategic, and expert engagement of the City among partners and stakeholders. There are also several important and current opportunities for such leadership and engagement to drive progress right now, including resources being made available through the American Rescue Plan, resources that will be included within the State budget, and multiple options for providing direct, personal leadership and support to key efforts and initiatives in San Diego.

To address these findings, Doherty makes 16 recommendations for actions Mayor Gloria and his team can take. Some have already been implemented.

For example, the Mayor included in his City budget for the new fiscal year, which began today, the creation of a Department of Homelessness Strategies and Solutions. A national search for the first director to lead the new department is nearing conclusion. The director will be supported with three new senior-level staff positions.

Also, Mayor Gloria, in collaboration with the County of San Diego and numerous nonprofit providers, launched a concentrated, person-centered outreach effort on June 28 to connect people living unsheltered on the streets of Downtown with housing, shelter and services.

Much of Doherty’s report focuses on the need to better align the City’s efforts with the PDF icon Community Action Plan on Homelessness, which was adopted in 2019.

Matthew Doherty has nearly 30 years of leadership experience in the private and public sectors, focused on ending homelessness and the implementation of housing, services programs, and economic opportunities. He served from 2015 to 2019 as executive director for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the agency charged with coordinating the federal response to homelessness. Through his consulting practice, Doherty now provides expert guidance to national, state and local leaders and organizations seeking effective solutions to housing needs and homelessness.

Doherty has deep connections to the San Diego region. While living in La Mesa, he worked on homelessness and housing issues in the community for more than 14 years, working with the San Diego Housing Commission, the Corporation for Supportive Housing and USICH. He stayed closely connected to the community throughout his federal service, even after relocating to the Washington, D.C., area.