Father Joe’s Villages Issues Statement on City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness

The San Diego City Council unanimously accepted the City of San Diego Community Action Plan on Homelessness which aims to prevent homelessness and provide housing service with $1.9 million funding over the next 10 years on Oct. 14, 2019.

Prior to the City Council’s voting, Father Joe’s Villages, a local organization that provides services such as food, sheltering and transitioning programs for homeless people in San Diego, made a statement about the Community Action Plan, showing approval and support.

“If this plan is to be successful, a critical component will be the integration of comprehensive supportive services tailored to the needs of those on the streets,” Deacon Jim Vargas, President and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, said in a statement.  

Father Joe’s Village stayed involved in the formulation of the plan since the beginning. The Corporation for Support of Housing gathered senior staff from several local homeless service providers in a small group to exchange ideas on possible solutions. 

The Plan on Homelessness was disclosed by the San Diego Housing Commission, an agency that provides housing programs and opportunities for the low income and homeless communities. The Housing Commission charted the Community Action Plan catered for San Diego and  contracted with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, an organization that provides strategic plans to alleviate homelessness across the country. 

As stated in the Plan, it aims to “decrease unsheltered homelessness by 50 percent” in three years. Within its three-year outlook, the Plan also envisions to end veteran and youth homelessness. 

When asked about the bold goals claimed by the Plan, Deacon Vargas expressed optimism.

“Is it bold? Yes. But it is also realistic assuming that we are taking it seriously and approaching it in a smart way,” Deacon Vargas told the UCSD Guardian.  

In fact, Father Joe’s Village is already getting a head start on moving towards the Plan’s stated goals.

Deacon Vargas revealed that the organization will soon be making groundbreaking advances with the Turning the Key Initiative, which sets out to provide 2000 units of new apartments for the homeless community in San Diego. In two months, a 14-story building with 407 units will be ready to be put into place and hopefully get 550 people off the street.

The number of homeless people that would be sheltered by this new building alone is already reaching over 10 percent of the Plan’s goal to reduce around 5000 homeless people in San Diego, giving a positive outlook to its implementation. 

According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, San Diego County had the fourth-most homeless residents, with 8576 people experiencing homelessness. 

The Plan is different in that the $1.9 million funding it calls upon does not depend on state funding alone. Instead, it also relies on local homeless service providers such as Father Joe’s Villages and local government funding programs. 

One such local funding program is the Yes for a Better San Diego Initiative, which will be voted upon next March. This Initiative will tax hotel stayers in San Diego and allocate the money to reduce homelessness, reconstruct streets, and expand tourism facilities. The Initiative will provide a major source of the financial support needed once adopted by the vote.