More than any other big city in the nation, San Diego’s homeless providers are relying on an outdated, less effective strategy to reduce the region’s homeless population.
National homelessness advocates are pushing cities to dial back on transitional housing and ramp up so-called housing-first programs, which focus on quickly housing people rather than months- or years-long interventions first. Transitional housing programs are focused on helping homeless people stabilize before they access permanent housing; housing-first programs are like the name suggests — they first provide the housing and then follow up with services based on a person’s needs.
Federal officials have said the housing-first method works best and are urging cities to shift to that model or risk losing federal cash.
This presents a challenge for San Diego, which rose in national homeless population rankings this year. The region has a larger share of transitional housing stock than any other top-20 metro area in the nation.