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Affordable Housing Is Where the Heart Is

At least it is for Jennifer LeSar, who counts campaign coordinator for the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego among her many job titles. She joined VOSD Radio on this week’s podcast.

You might’ve heard of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. It’s a nationwide movement to put roofs over the heads of 100,000 chronically homeless people by July 2015, and San Diego’s in on the action.

Jennifer LeSar is campaign coordinator for the effort here, known as The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego. LeSar wears many hats, though — she’s also chief executive of LeSar Development Consultants, is leading the community outreach component of the search for the next San Diego Foundation CEO and has been instrumental in the affordable housing debate.

So she and VOSD Radio co-host Andy Keatts had plenty to talk about on this week’s podcast. LeSar joined Keatts and me (Scott Lewis will be back next week) to riff on what’s next for affordable housing, homelessness and the San Diego Foundation. Download the episode below, or subscribe on iTunes for quick and easy delivery to your dedicated mobile device.

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Here are some of the takeaways from LeSar’s appearance.

Affordable housing is a multi-headed beast.

“First, as an industry we really have to be prudent and make sure we’re not overbuilding, that we don’t have too many amenities and we can keep the cost down. And the pressure there is that communities want to make sure that affordable housing looks great, so you’re pressured to over-design to win community approval, but then that means that affordable housing gets pretty expensive.”

It’s an issue everyone should pay attention to.

“We need to make housing affordable for everybody in San Diego, especially if we want the children of our families today to be able to stay. So affordable housing is an issue for low-income people, working people, medium-income people and even the upper-middle class.”

She knows where she stands in the ‘housing first’ vs. transitional housing debate.

“Almost all of the research bears out that ‘housing first’ is the best intervention for homeless clients, unless they are … women or men who have been battered, homeless youth or folks suffering from substance abuse. And transitional housing is an appropriate intervention for those three populations, but for everybody else, it’s put ’em in housing, give ’em a key, restore their dignity and then wrap them with the services they need.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated LeSar’s role in the search for the San Diego Foundation’s next CEO. We apologize for the error.

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