Ending Chronic Homelessness
Enough is enough.
We cannot claim to be America’s Finest City when thousands of people live unsheltered and dying on our streets. As Mayor, I will focus the City’s energy and resources on results-oriented programs proven to get homeless people off the streets, connected to services and back on their feet.
Our strategy will be focused on permanent supportive housing instead of temporary shelters. Our goal should be to end chronic homelessness. Other cities have done it and San Diego should too. Let’s work together as a region to make solving this urgent problem.
No more band-aids. No more temporary tents without a plan. No more criminalizing the existence of San Diego’s poorest and sickest residents. It’s time we work to actually end chronic homelessness. This problem is solvable with strong leadership, data-driven decision-making and accountability for all stakeholders.
This is Our Top Priority.
A problem as large and complex as homelessness can only be solved if it is understood to be the City’s top priority. Cities that are making progress toward ending homelessness have mayors that are directly and personally involved in the matter. That’s why I will move homeless services into the Mayor’s office in my first 100 days. This action is meant to send an unambiguous message to the entire city that this issue is the focus of my administration. I will personally ensure we make progress on this issue and hold those carrying out the work of housing the homeless accountable every single day.
Data Must Drive Decision Making.
San Diego is spending more money than ever reacting to the homelessness crisis, but we are not seeing the results we deserve. As Mayor, I will implement radical transparency to ensure that limited taxpayer resources are being spent efficiently and effectively on programs that are getting people off the streets and keeping them housing for the long term. Those who are not delivering the results we expect will be defunded and we will redirect those funds to programs that are working.
Service providers will be mandated to provide the public with data showing the outcomes of taxpayer funded programs. This information should be available online through a public data portal with monthly updates on all of the City’s housing and homelessness programs so that taxpayers can see the impact of their investments.
Housing Solves Homelessness.
If we want to join the communities across the nation that are making real progress toward solving this problem, we must implement an aggressive housing first strategy that combines housing with wrap-around services. Emergency shelters should be for triage only. We must demand better outcomes form the City’s shelter system and move clients through the system and into permanent housing opportunities as quickly as possible.
Housing first solutions have proven to save the public money and get real results. This approach eliminates requirements that become barriers to housing and provides the services that homeless people need in addition to housing. It’s common sense that the fastest way to end the condition of homelessness is to give someone a home. When supportive services are added to ensure the individuals remain stable and do not return to the streets.
The City should also make investments in solutions like rapid-rehousing for those who need relatively modest assistance to get back on their feet. Often a security deposit, first/last months rental payment or credit check fee can be all that holds a person or family back from becoming housing secure. Smart prevention and diversion solutions like this can save many from homelessness.
I will make the tough decisions needed to retool our programs and invest only in evidence-based solutions that support the housing first model.
Regional Collaboration is Key.
Homeless individuals can be found in every community in the county. In order to end chronic homelessness, we must have full collaboration and coordination between elected leaders, those experiencing homelessness, housing providers, service providers and others on the front lines helping our most vulnerable residents.
As the Councilmember for District Three, I led the effort to merge San Diego’s leading homelessness organizations, forming one unified entity in the region tasked with strategic planning and coordination of resources to strengthen our collective impact and end chronic homelessness.
As Mayor, I will build upon this structure by convening regular intergovernmental round tables with public officials representing the other 17 incorporated cities, county, state and federal governments so that we can scale solutions to match the size of our region’s problem.
Leaders must be at the table to see what is working and what is not. By fostering stronger cross-jurisdictional collaboration, I will ensure that City resources are aligned with investments from county, state and federal budgets. Decisions should be based off of one regional action plan to build a system that gets people off the streets and into housing as quickly as possible.
Put Mental Health Funds to Work.
We must address the mental health crisis head-on and implement real solutions for those who cannot care for themselves. There are no quick fixes for behavioral health conditions like substance abuse but there is funding available to address them. Counties across California are sitting on billions in unspent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding. The County of San Diego has tens of millions in available dollars at a time when 43% of our homeless neighbors are challenged with mental health issues.
As Mayor, I will work with County officials to match MHSA funds to City housing dollars to incentivize the creation of housing first opportunities for the homeless. Housing providers and health and behavioral health care providers can coordinate to connect patients to resources and care as quickly as possible. We are failing our community’s mentally ill by leaving the hardest to house on the streets. This is not just a civic disgrace but it is inhumane and far more expensive when those who are hardest to serve cycle through the emergency response, hospital and criminal justice systems.
Let’s End Chronic Homelessness
San Diego can join other cities across the nation that are ending chronic homelessness by implementing best-in-class strategies rather than the temporary solutions that have been used locally. The fix for this crisis is more affordable housing and supportive services. The time to tackle this problem is now. The time for bold and progressive leadership is now. I will be a motor that believes it is our moral imperative to lift up the very weakest among us and considers housing a basic human right. I will dedicate every day of my time in office to ensuring that we all can have a place to call home.