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Commentary: Addressing homelessness in North County

By Supervisor Jim Desmond

We’ve all heard the same political campaign speech, ‘We need to solve homelessness,’ and while it sounds good, that promise which has been made time and time again, usually lacks substance.

San Diego County continues to struggle with an ongoing crisis of homelessness with an estimated 22,000 people experiencing homelessness at some point throughout the year.

While much of the focus on homelessness is in the urban core, North San Diego County feels the effects. In 2019, 1,540 homeless individuals were counted in one night, in North County. Despite millions of dollars being spent, improvement has been limited.

Earlier this week, I partnered with Supervisor Lawson-Remer on a board letter, which looks to make a significant impact to address North County’s homeless population.

The action develops a North County pilot program, which includes teams of outreach staff and will be compromised of highly qualified social workers, which will be deployed in cities to develop trust and build relationships with homeless individuals.

Working closely with each City government’s homeless personnel and resources, the County staff will leverage resources regionally, across jurisdictional lines. They will be able to transport clients and will have access to funds to provide for incidentals such as clothing, food, help obtaining identification and short-term motel vouchers as part of the engagement.

This engagement will lead to services and housing, getting this vulnerable population off the street, making a dent in the crisis facing many of our cities.

Currently, each of the eight cities in North County has various service providers, which deploy resources and programs, however, in order to truly tackle this problem, the elected leaders in these cities have come together to coordinate a regional approach and collaborate with the County. This will provide a greater level of outreach and support to unhoused individuals.

For too long those experiencing homelessness and the residents of San Diego County have been given empty promise upon empty promise. The time for talk is done. It’s time for San Diego County and North County to step up to address this problem together.

Supervisor Jim Desmond represents District 5, including Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

3 comments

Loraine Kosa April 14, 2021 at 9:34 am

I have a soft spot for those who have lost their home, have mental illness and TRULY want help- and am behind prioritizing solutions for this cause. There is one piece of the proposed solution that frightens me- the hotel vouchers. I feel strongly that this needs to be given to the right people- those who are willing to take drug tests, and look for work. The thought of more homeless flocking to Carlsbad to take advantage of free hotel vouchers is a real concern for me. Where can we find more details about this proposal and who will qualify for hotel vouchers so that I can educate myself? If more details are easily available- I think it would calm the fears and concerns of the community. Thank you.

Ed Fazio April 13, 2021 at 8:31 pm

Arlyn Smith… Common Sense Comments, Suggestions, & Questions You Put Forth Should Be Repeated On Facebook & Twitter Over & Over… I’ m Going to Seek You Out on Both… As to “Homeless” Problem & Jim Desmond, BOTH Need Addressed… Jim Is One of the Better Supervisors, & Was ONCE a Real Advocate of the People… Sadly, HE Has Become a Politician, & Like Them All Just Tosses $$$ at Problems & Calls Them Solved, While Taking a Bow Before the Camera & Then Looking at Re-Election… American Citizens Should ALWAYS Come FIRST Before Immigrants, Legal or Illegal…

Arlyn Smith April 13, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Mr. Desmond: I am very interested in the homeless issue especially homeless veterans. It seems to me that the government continues to throw taxpayer dollars at social problems such as these with little to no solutions. Politicians seem to think that big talk and big money will fix any problem. They follow this strategy time after time expecting different results using the same approach. Albert Einstein called this one definition of insanity. I’ll attempt to offer some solutions: Take a look at Goodwill Industries for one. They offer many different people a job. In some cases these people may be mentally impaired and/or homeless. There are likely some government type jobs that the homeless can perform. Think of teaching a man to fish versus giving him a fish to eat. Qualified social workers should be able to determine which people are employable. As far as housing goes, I believe there are many buildings, schools that have been shut down, maybe military buildings and many others that can be used for housing. If we can house many many immigrants/illegals in the convention center why can’t we find housing for Veterans and the homeless? I don’t have a problem helping the immigrants, but they should go to the back of the line AFTER legal Americans have been helped. Illegals seem to be getting preferential treatment and are put at the head of the welfare line in too many cases. Another problem with illegals is the lack of education from their country of origin. American cannot fix that problem in a direct manner. What we can do is tie foreign aid to these country using some of that money to invest in their education systems. but only with serious confirmation. After all, how can an immigrant be expected to assimilate into our system when they don’t speak the language and are close to being illiterate?

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