North County 25 Cities Project meets many goals

REGION — The San Diego North County 25 Cities Project to end veteran and chronic homelessness reached its first 100 days on May 4 and met most of its goals.

Outreach efforts that began in January have been a success.

The collaborative of North County cities, nonprofits and charity groups collectively assessed 323 homeless individuals, secured seven full-time housing navigators to help individuals with resource and housing paperwork, and referred 123 people to permanent housing.

The group uses a common assessment tool and shared database to find the best housing and resource matches for people living on the streets.

Project efforts have fallen short of the goal to permanently house 40 individuals within 100 days. A total of 17 have been housed.

Greg Anglea, executive director of Interfaith Community Services and vice president of Alliance for Regional Solutions, which sponsors the project, said the problem is finding friendly landlords who will work with the program.

“We have enough resources to move individuals into homes, we don’t have enough homes to move them into,” Anglea said.

San Diego County has a 3 percent rental vacancy rate. The competitive rental market makes it difficult for previously homeless individuals to secure housing.

“For someone who is overcoming homelessness and may have a poor credit score, and maybe has a checkered rental history, it’s very difficult to get an apartment even when there’s funding there to pay for the rent,” Anglea said.

He added it is too early to tell if being part of project helps individuals secure rentals.

“As the system comes into its own, I expect numbers (of those permanently housed) to grow.”

There have been tremendous strides forward in cities, nonprofits and charity groups working together to solve regional homelessness.

“We’re better utilizing resources, right sizing assistance and bringing forward new types of assistance that weren’t available previously,” Anglea said.

“It’s absolutely a game changer, it involves organizations giving up control over their own resources. It involves working across organizational lines, across municipal lines in ways that have not occurred consistently throughout the years.”

As part of the group effort the cites of Oceanside and Carlsbad have earmarked a number of HUD Section 8 rental assistance vouchers to help house homeless.

Oceanside has also formed a police Homeless Outreach Team, in which two full time officers work as homeless advocates. Officers contact, assess, refer services and follow up on city homeless in the same way project navigators do.

Areas that need to be strengthened in the project’s regional efforts include recruiting additional volunteer project navigators to help with assessments and referrals, and securing more long-range mental health services.

With 100 days under their belt the group has decided to move forward with efforts without pause. Anglea said new resources are becoming available and the group wants to continue its momentum.

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