In the absence of a broad countywide action plan to address homelessness, a patchwork of strategies has emerged.
Cities, business districts and nonprofits have responded to the growing crisis with sometimes contradictory tacks; in other cases, they’ve taken steps that have simply shifted homelessness to neighboring communities. Community groups and power brokers have pushed their own plans. Multiple groups, including a new City Council committee on homelessness, have tried to fill what many agree has been a gaping leadership void.
But now, a wide-ranging regional plan to address San Diego’s growing homelessness crisis is actually in the works, and leaders hope they can persuade all those disparate groups to get behind a single plan.
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the countywide group trying to coordinate San Diego’s response to homelessness, has enlisted Focus Strategies, a Sacramento-based firm that’s produced similar plans for other communities, to create a plan for San Diego. At the end of next month, it’s set to share an overarching vision for an overhauled system and suggestions on early steps it can take to better aid homeless San Diegans.
“We’re building the plane while we’re flying the plane,” Focus Strategies principal Megan Kurteff Schatz said last week.
The move to offer quick actions San Diego can take now reflects a quandary that’s played out over the last year about what San Diego should do to address exploding homelessness in the absence of more immediate, permanent solutions. Kurteff Schatz expects to propose more temporary rental assistance as well as diversion programs to keep people off the streets in the first place. She didn’t mention more short-term shelter beds, which some advocates and leaders, namely Mayor Kevin Faulconer, have championed.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
It's true in every city. Everyone wants something done about the homeless but very few people actually do it. As a result, the few who do tackle homelessness are able to become kings of their own little worlds. And these people are usually unwilling to give up the pedestals on which they've been placed. This lack of cooperation Is one of the biggest obstacles to reducing homelessness. Another big obstacle is a lack of willingness on the part of civic leaders to do what it actually takes to end homelessness. And at the heart of that lack of willingness are powerful constituents who know little or nothing about homelessness but still judge homeless people in the most negative terms. Those are the kinds of things that must be addressed. It has been proven that understanding homelessness leads to empathy for the homeless. It's time for everyone to learn.
I don't know this team although I've gone to their website to read more about them... They apparently have a strong record and I assume San Diego leaders will check that out before actually signing a contract with them.
I'm troubled (as a former organizational consultant) by all the answers they have but I see nothing on their pages about "problem definition." In my years of experience, it was rare for a client to present a correct problem, so the first stage of my work was always a problem-seeking phase. Every body involved will have their own definition of the problem but a good consultant will dig deeper to identify the problem clearly before beginning to offer answers. The wrong answers to a problem just lead further away from the solution.
In San Diego's case, we've already seen how this works...Mayor Faulconer has his definition of the problem, Father Joe has his, housing folks have theirs, etc.
Effective consultants must clearly define the problem they are trying to solve before they start digging up the ground. I hope for San Diego's sake this will happen. Otherwise, it's more money down the drain.
Hopefully, the plan will include an estimate of the proposed cost of its implementation, as well as the potential sources of revenue that would support that cost. That information is crucial for the public to evaluate the Mayor's proposed bond measure, that includes the convention center expansion and street repair, as well as support for homeless programs. As it stands now, only 18% of the proceeds of the proposed bond measure would be used to support homeless programs. Let's see the information on how well the revenue supports the need!
This is the best news I’ve read about the homeless issue in a long time. Clearly the manifold approaches that have been taken up to now, while a result of genuine good intent on the part of many (though not all) have provided some successes, but have failed in the big picture. Solutions to complex social problems don’t come overnight and they necessitate everyone (or most everyone) to be committed to a common strategy. This is politically inconvenient, because the populace wants a solution, or the appearance of a solution, right now. I would hope that the various governments, nonprofits, and private sector can find a way to realign their disparate approaches and show patience, yet determination to support a common strategy with proven outcomes, as has occurred in other communities that have resolved the issue humanely and effectively.
I hope this plan succeeds, but as the article points out there have been so many other plans. May I suggest an addition to the plan which will help it succeed? If you want government money, follow the plan.
Part of the problem with the other plans has been each of the providers has their own funding stream. They therefore wander off like cats in a field, they have no incentive to cooperate. HUD funding, the County of San Diego, and the City of San Diego control the largest pots of money in the homeless area. Once the plan is adopted, make it a requirement for a charity to receive ANY government funding it must adhere to the approved plan.
Our homeless service providers have been notoriously independent, that has led directly to the mess we now have. We can no longer afford for each to do its own thing with no / little coordination. If we are going to make progress we must be willing to tackle hard problems and that includes bringing some of the largest and most well known charities into the fold. Making government funding contingent on playing your part in the region wide homeless plan is a way, perhaps with this group the only way, to do that. I hope Supervisor Roberts was serious when he said “There is no excuse for noncompliance.” If he was, then perhaps we have a chance to make real progress.