ESCONDIDO — Escondido’s newly restructured Community Advisory Group on Homelessness met on Tuesday, Aug. 24, to share ideas and information between city staff, service providers and community members regarding homelessness, as well as explain the city’s efforts and plans moving forward.
The group was originally formed about two years ago, along with four other Community Advisory Groups in the city.
After having to restructure the group after a year of strict COVID-19 restrictions, community members and city staff met to discuss the background of the homelessness issue and the city’s role in addressing it.
Mayor Paul McNamara, Councilwoman Tina Inscoe and City Manager Sean McGlynn were also present at the meeting, as well as Interfaith CEO Greg Anglea.
“Our mission in the City of Escondido is to work with our partners to manage and reduce homelessness,” said the advisory group. “We will be utilizing resources, multiple disciplines, and cross-departmental teamwork to address the specific needs of the diverse groups suffering from homelessness while minimizing negative community impacts.”
City staff reviewed data and statistics of homeless individuals in the city and county and provided resources to participants on learning materials, ways to get involved and volunteer opportunities.
Anglea spoke to the group about the importance of being patient and persistent in this kind of work because it comes with its challenges.
“People have been traumatized. Individuals on the streets, their brains are often functioning differently. Don’t get confused and think it’s all mental health, addiction, personal choice — people have had things happen to them,” Anglea said. “When it comes to offering people help … we don’t just try to offer and throw things at people. … It’s tough and it takes a lot of time, which makes it all the more important that we do this work.”
The group also discussed why this issue is important to address for the health of the city as a whole.
According to a 2020 We All Count report, Escondido’s homeless population is 447, with 241 of those individuals unsheltered.
According to the City of Escondido’s Strategy for Addressing Homelessness & Transiency, in Southern California, the “estimated the annual cost per homeless individual can range from $40,000 to over $60,000.
“Costs include, emergency medical and police response, incarceration costs due to chronic law violations, encampment and trash cleanup, power washing of sidewalks and storefronts due to public health risks, uninsured medical treatment, and social services such as temporary housing and counseling.”
The meeting concluded after a Q&A forum and an encouragement to community members to continue to get involved as the group moves forward.