Building on ongoing efforts to connect San Diegans experiencing homelessness to shelter and social services, Mayor Todd Gloria, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Caltrans on Oct. 18 announced a new collaborative outreach program to support residents living in dangerous conditions adjacent to state highways.
“I don’t think homelessness can be solved, I know it can be solved,” Newsom said. “The state has provided unprecedented financial resources and opportunities to local governments to address street homelessness, but it takes local leaders like Mayor Gloria to turn this into action. Our vision on homelessness must be realized at the local level, and I hope this partnership becomes a template for other cities and counties around California to address encampments along our streets and highways.”
The City of San Diego’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department will contract directly with City Net – a nonprofit homelessness-services organization that started in Long Beach in 2005 and has programs in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties – to provide focused street outreach.
“We know there has been a proliferation of homeless encampments along our state highways, which is a particularly dangerous place for them to be. Ensuring we are able to reach them and offer services is critical,” said Gloria. “This first-of-its-kind collaboration with Caltrans and a new partner, City Net, harnesses the opportunities provided by Gov. Newsom’s California Comeback Plan, creating yet another way for us to implement our compassionate approach to keeping people safe and ending homelessness one person at a time.”
“I’m excited to expand our base of service providers in San Diego as we collaborate with dedicated partners such as San Diego Housing Commission, San Diego Downtown Partnership and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness and tried-and-true providers like PATH, Alpha Project and Father Joe’s Villages,” said Hafsa Kaka, director of the City of San Diego’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department. “City Net will be fully integrated into our systems of care and help us resolve encampments while adhering to the proven principles of Housing First.”
The City’s partnership with Caltrans and its contract with City Net represents the first agreement in the State of California to provide dedicated outreach at encampments in the Caltrans right-of-way since Newsom announced $22 billion in investments to local governments to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing as part of his California Comeback Plan.
“Caltrans looks forward to continuing our work with the City of San Diego to find resources for those living near our roadways while the department keeps the public and people experiencing homelessness safe,” Caltrans director Toks Omishakin said.
“Caltrans recognizes the role we play in San Diego’s regional plan to get people who are experiencing homelessness into housing,” Caltrans District 11 director Gustavo Dallarda said. “This partnership with the City of San Diego allows us to continue addressing encampments on the highway and ensure individuals sheltering in unsafe conditions are provided the necessary services and support to move them into stable living situations. Working collaboratively with our local partners furthers Newsom’s Comeback Plan and California’s investments toward ending homelessness.”
Under its contract with the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, City Net will deploy three outreach teams that will work with the San Diego Housing Commission and its current network of providers on shelter placements and wraparound supportive services, including transportation, case management and emergency mental-health support. The contract spans from October 2021 through June 2022.
“City Net is excited to join the collaborative partners in the City of San Diego that have already been working to connect vulnerable homeless neighbors to shelter and housing and to return public spaces to their intended uses,” City Net executive director Brad Fieldhouse said. “Realizing the significant community concern around this important issue, we will leverage our experience in some of the largest homeless encampments in Southern California to seek solutions that will benefit both those experiencing homelessness and the broader community of businesses, homeowners and civic leaders.”