The Coast News Group
Carlsbad police Sgt. Matt Magro, left, speaks to a full house on Aug. 27 at the Harding Center, 3096 Harding St., in Carlsbad during a public workshop on homelessness. Photo by Steve Puterski

Homeless workshop opens up dialogue for city, residents

CARLSBAD — Residents from all over the city came to pitch their ideas, solutions and concerns regarding the homeless population at a public workshop on Aug. 27.

City staff, along with the City Council subcommittee on homelessness of Mayor Matt Hall and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, and the Carlsbad Homeless Outreach Team held the workshop at the Harding Center, 3096 Harding St.

Hall and Schumacher said homelessness is one of the most pressing issues, and one the two political opposites are in lock step.

“It’s a statewide problem,” Hall said. “We’ve reach out along the corridor (State Route 78 cities) because it’s a regional issue.”

“We need short- and long-term solutions,” Schumacher added. “This is one area of concern we are in perfect alignment.”

Residents were in groups of five to six per table and tasked with relaying their opinions on the biggest issues and concerns regarding homelessness, generating ideas to address it and identifying three things they could commit to that would help the issue.

Many concerns centered on a lack of housing options, whether in Carlsbad or the county, job training, hygiene, encampments, addiction and crime, among others.

Residents Kyle Gelbart and Rob and Kathy Roth discussed some of the more pressing issues at their table. Gelbart said encampments are concerning, while noting a deeper dive on the data and breakdown of the root cause per individual would be useful.

The Roths said it’s tough for addicts to reach a treatment facility with specific stipulations requiring a person to be sober for 72 hours. Also, they said job training must be a focus, while Gelbart said a “homeless fair,” could accomplish many of the goals or spark an increase in starting the process of getting identification, housing applications and meeting with service providers.

Gelbart said it’s a difficult issue with no clear-cut answer, but suggested governments pool their resources.

“So, what is the solution?” she asked. “I’ve been in this type of situation. When I moved here, I had no job and I couldn’t get a home. I couldn’t get a home because I had no job.”

Homelessness is a growing concern, although the city invested in four full-time police officers dedicated to the Homeless Outreach Team as part of the Homeless Response Plan, which was approved in 2017.

CPD Sgt. Matt Magro, along with Housing and Neighborhood Service, said the team works with homeless to provide pathways for housing, along with securing doctor appointments and personal identification records.

Magro said the causes of homelessness are vast from a lack of affordable housing and addiction to changes in the law, but new approaches have been successful in helping people off the streets. He said being homeless isn’t illegal, although cities are revisiting their ordinances.

Most of the activity, he said, is in the Village, showing a map of and as of Aug. 27, he said Carlsbad Police Department had 114 camp cleanups, 422 contacts, 94 services provided and 61 arrests from 3,192 calls across the city. Magro said 10 people have found permanent housing.

“It’s at the forefront of every city and town in the state,” Magro said.

In addition to the public workshop, Hall and Schumacher will also meet with the Alliance for Regional Solutions and return to the council with their findings.