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Carlsbad homeless plan shows early signs of success

CARLSBAD — The city’s homelessness plan is seeing some early success through the first quarter of 2021, according to a report during a Carlsbad City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Mandy Mills, director of housing and homeless services, Holly Nelson, the city’s senior program manager of housing and homeless services, and Cpt. Christie Calderwood, of the Carlsbad Police Department, each reported on various aspects of the city’s goal to reduce homelessness by 50% over the next five years.

The council also approved an amendment to the homeless plan to change the emergency voucher program implementation and explore options at La Posada to include women and children and explore Project Homekey funds.

In an earlier agenda item, the council also approved an amended ordinance to enforce city laws during a state of emergency regarding the parking of oversized vehicles on public streets.

“You wanted to create measurable objectives to create transparency,” Nelson said of the homeless plan. “This provides an opportunity for council and the community … to evaluate our effectiveness.”

From July 1 through Sept. 30 (the first Fiscal Year quarter), she said the city had 28 shelter placements, 16 people to permanent housing and contacted 253 people. The police department reported 1,542 calls for service, some of which were multiple calls concerning the same person, and one encampment cleanup per month.

The city also has contracts with the Community Resource Center and Interfaith Community Services for social work.

Nelson said the CRC placed seven homeless households into permanent housing, bridged eight people into higher-level resources and enrolled 36 individuals into the program. As for Interfaith, the nonprofit has two clinicians providing coverage seven days per week.

She reported Interfaith placed nine people into permanent housing, bridged 19 people into emergency shelters and referred 32 to mental health, substance abuse and health services.

Calderwood, meanwhile, said 66% of the 253 people contacted by the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) accepted services and 34% refused. Those contacted accepted some form of service, Calderwood added, saying it is important to note these services range from a hygiene kit all the way up to shelter.

In the next quarterly update to the council, Calderwood and Nelson plan on drilling down further into each category to show the percentages of accepted services and exactly what percentage are accepting rehab, shelter and detox, to name a few, Calderwood said.

“It’s a landscape that is difficult to navigate,” Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel said. “Working with various viewpoints and trying to find common ground. It’s going to be a regional issue and something we have to work with our partners on. I’m excited to see prioritizing La Posada and women and children.”

According to Calderwood, in conjunction with the plan, changes to municipal code with respect to enforcement have resulted in more motivation for the homeless to seek assistance.

“It does not appear more enforcement has hurt service,” Calderwood said. “In the first week of enforcement, five chronic addicts willingly requested assistance. In the prior two weeks, not one person went to rehab. We had two citations prior (to the new plan) compared to 40 citations. Recent enforcement is resulting in motivation in progress for the homeless community who have resisted in the past.”

Christine Davis, executive director of the Carlsbad Village Association, said there has been some improvement in the Village regarding the homeless. Also, the city has placed four bathrooms in the Village, according to the staff report.

Mayor Matt Hall said the addition of 50 affordable housing units will be coming online early next year. The project, known as Windsor Pointe, upset some Barrio residents over changes to the project allowing severely mentally ill people to apply.

Correction: The HOT team contacted 253 individuals and a previous version of this story reported there appeared to be a contradiction about the number of people reached by Carlsbad police. Calderwood clarified saying the city’s methodology is correct and more data will be presented next year.

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