Bridge shelter program expands to serve more families, homeless youth
Published - 12/11/19 - 11:30 AM | 2341 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer
Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer
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Advancing San Diego’s efforts to reduce homelessness, the City Council on Dec. 10 voted separately to expand Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s bridge shelter program for homeless individuals and to create a flexible funding pool to bolster homeless services and programs.

The expansion will occur early next year at the bridge shelter at Golden Hall. Father Joe’s Villages currently operates the 141-bed shelter for women and families in the North Terrace rooms of Golden Hall and now will expand with up to 138 beds in the South Terrace rooms.

A portion of the new beds will specifically serve Transition Aged Youth – at-risk youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who are transitioning from state custody or foster care. That group makes up 11 percent of San Diego’s unsheltered homeless population.

The expansion – which follows the opening of a fourth bridge shelter in November – will bring the total number of beds in the bridge shelter program to 931 citywide. The City’s bridge shelters include one run by Veterans Village of San Diego at 2801 ½ Sports Arena Blvd.

The City Council also approved the creation of a flexible pool of funding that will be used in innovative ways to bolster services and programs helping homeless individuals in San Diego using State Homeless Emergency Aid Program funding. In its first year, it will deploy up to $1 million in aid to individuals who need some form of low-level or short-term help to achieve housing stability, but who might not qualify for some of the City’s other homeless assistance programs. This will address a known gap in the system.

“The city’s new Community Action Plan on Homelessness sets ambitious goals with targeted action items to help people living on the streets,” said District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell. “Today’s item creates the region’s first-ever flexible funding pool. This will help us pay for needed programs like outreach, reunification, transitional storage and safe lots for individuals experiencing homelessness.”

The bridge shelter program – overseen by the San Diego Housing Commission – provides temporary relief from the streets to hundreds of individuals every day with beds, meals, showers, restrooms, 24-hour security, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job training as well as help to find permanent housing.

Today’s action puts San Diego on a path to achieve two of the targets laid out in the City’s new Community Action Plan on Homelessness. The plan – a roadmap for creating a more comprehensive system to reduce homelessness over 10 years – calls out the need to add 350-500 crisis response options like new shelter beds and other programs.

“City Council’s decision to expand the temporary bridge shelter will provide desperately needed near-term options for people on the streets today and will allow us to connect them to our integrated services at Father Joe’s Villages, including healthcare, substance use disorder treatment, dental, vocational training, employment services, and housing placement,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages.

“This year, we far surpassed the established goal of transitioning 30 percent of clients into permanent or other long-term housing, averaging over 60 percent and at times reaching as high as 85 percent. We commend the City Council and Mayor Faulconer for taking concrete action to address the very real needs facing those on San Diego’s streets and look forward to working with other transition-age youth providers to deliver the best support possible.”

The City and the Housing Commission have collaborated to develop the program and clarify funding needs. The following were identified as target uses for the funds: 

• Flexible funding for housing-related financial assistance, services support and program operations, including targeting additional resources in the city’s bridge and interim shelters. 

• Exploring the development of a master leasing program to determine the feasibility of entering into lease agreements with landlords to secure units in existing markets for homeless individuals ready to exit into stable housing.

“We’ve gotten hundreds of people off the street and into permanent housing as a direct result of our decision to open the bridge shelters two years ago,” Faulconer said. “With so many positive outcomes, it makes all the sense in the world to expand the bridge shelter program and help even more people get on the journey to a better life. I want to thank the City Council voting to approve this expansion and investing in a program with proven success.”

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