San Diego leaders are hoping a key architect behind Utah’s success in reducing chronic homelessness can replicate that success in San Diego.
Gordon Walker, Utah’s former state director of housing and community development, has been named CEO of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, a countywide group that aims to coordinate San Diego’s homeless-serving efforts.
Earlier this year, the task force merged with the group that annually doles out about $18 million in federal homelessness funds. The goal is to better address a seemingly intractable cause long challenged by a slew of competing efforts.
Enter Walker. He took the helm of the San Diego group on Wednesday, two years after his retirement in Utah. He was a key player in efforts to corral leaders across Utah to tackle that state’s homelessness problem.
Now regional leaders in San Diego want Walker to get San Diego politicians, nonprofits and residents behind an overarching strategy to address exploding street homelessness countywide and to set up the task force to take on a regional coordination role.
“I feel like he’s the guy that can do a lot of the things that I think are needed to help orchestrate a successful regional effort in reducing homelessness in San Diego,” said County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who chairs the task force.
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Homelessness continues in Utah and yet this man is being trumpeted by the Tribune as "renowned homelessness expert." Please, somebody get going on learning more and making it public about both the successes and failures of Gordon Walker. I understand the Housing First concept very well and know it's been successful many other places. The Utah story has been exaggerated and Mr. Walker has allowed that to happen. There's plenty of press about it and also about his unsuccessful business dealings. I hope the Voice staff will pursue this further and help us be sure Mr. Walker will be dedicated to helping San Diego, not creating more problems.
he's going to find out who's really running the city, something that needs exposure before it can be changed for the better. This city is stuck in their own thinking at the expense of so much suffering of innocent people, I feel victims of a greedy and corrupt city, with their personal coffers well supplied.......a 46-year citizen of San Diego
I'm in favor of any and all reasonable efforts to combat homelessness in San Diego. That said, hiring the man who is coming in on his record that's now being challenged in Utah is hardly the wisest tactic. Utah is a place with a culture unto itself, and assuming that whatever worked there can be replicated anywhere else, including San Diego, is wrong unless San Diego suddenly becomes a Mormon city.
Even Mr. Walker's statement that he hasn't "closely examined" the flags that have turned up on Utah's success but "stands on his record" is a warning to San Diego. This is a lot like ordering a popular meal in a high-class restaurant only to get food poisoning and hear the chef say, "It's a good recipe with high-quality ingredients and I stand by my record."
If Mr. Walker isn't interested in understanding what went wrong in Utah or hearing criticism of his success, well, then we've just hired a Donald Trump to take on San Diego's problems. I believe it would be a credit to the Voice and to San Diego to fully publish what happened in Utah and what did go wrong.
The thing is, this approach isn't just Utah. It has been used in places like Texas and New Jersey with great success. It is evidence based and has been adopted as the approach in Federal government. So we can't just talk about Utah. Even if there are errors the corrected numbers would be much more of a success than anything the current methods used in the San Diego region has achieved.
@Nathan Wollmann There's more to know about Mr. Walker and it would be a favor to San Diego for the Voice to explore that.