San Diego’s Big Homeless Housing Problem, in One Chart
• San Diego has a larger share of transitional housing stock than any other top-20 metro area in the nation — a strategy that federal officials and experts have criticized.
• Other major metros have reduced transitional housing services in favor of a housing-first model and seen their homelessness numbers drop. San Diego’s has risen.
• Experts caution cutting San Diego’s massive transitional housing stock alone wouldn’t instantly reduce San Diego’s homeless population. A move away from the transitional model takes years and other factors such as coordination between homeless providers and the availability of affordable housing would also be pivotal.
Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle
Teresita Petros crochets in her unit at the Village Place Apartments, part of Father Joe's Villages.
More than any other big city in the nation, San Diego’s homeless providers are relying on an outdated, less effective strategy to reduce the region’s homeless population.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.