Oceanside sets aside housing assistance vouchers

OCEANSIDE — City Council approved rules to set aside housing vouchers for homeless veterans and chronically homeless Aug. 5.

A key change was to increase veterans’ qualifying income from 50 percent of county medium income to 80 percent.

“The primary goal is to end chronic homelessness for veterans by the end of the year,” Margery Pierce, city neighborhood services director, said.

Pierce said while it’s a huge undertaking, Oceanside hopes to have all homeless veterans and families housed by the extended deadline of next year.

Oceanside received 1,604 section eight housing vouchers to assist low-income families, seniors and disabled with pay rent payments. Twenty of the vouchers are now earmarked for homeless veterans and chronically homeless.

The VASH program awarded the city 40 additional vouchers to assist homeless veterans.

Pierce said a range of assistance is needed to get people into housing. Sometimes it’s as simple as one-time help with a rental deposit, other times long-term assistance is needed.

Those receiving city assistance have a case manager who helps them through the process and paperwork to obtain a rental unit and maintain monthly payments.

“The section 8 vouchers are the most effective way to end homelessness,” Pierce said.

Pierce said she has seen a lot of success stories over the years. One she recalls is a homeless mother with four children, who sought help, went through work training, reunited with her husband and along with her husband gained employment.

The journey was not easy. It took five years, provided a stable home for the children and allowed the couple to become financially self-sufficient. They no longer seek assistance, and are in the process of buying a home in Temecula.

Success stories for others include securing permanent housing, stability and needed mental health services.

Pierce said the city police Homeless Outreach Team has made a big difference in connecting homeless individuals with available services.

Oceanside has joined the San Diego North County 25 Cities Project to end homelessness. The collaborative asks landlords to set aside units for those receiving assistance, and seeks additional case managers to help people through the process.

There still remains a six- to eight-year waiting list for city housing assistance.

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