The Coast News Group

Oceanside adopts a five year public housing plan

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside City Council approved a five-year public housing plan that includes a focus on housing veterans and chronic homeless individuals on April 1.

The new focus on veterans and chronic homeless is sparked by the national 25 Cities Initiative that aims to end veteran homelessness in 25 U.S. cities by the end of 2015. San Diego is one of the initial 25 cities to take on the initiative.

North County cities and nonprofits began to join in on the efforts in January.

The North County group, which works under the umbrella of Alliance for Regional Solutions, launched its first 100-day challenge in late January. The goal was set for each agency to permanently house 40 more households within 100 days.

Oceanside joined expanded regional efforts this month.

Collaborative housing efforts allow North County cites and agencies to address the regional problem of homelessness more effectively. Members share clients’ data and known housing resources.

This ensures services are not duplicated, and provides a wider net of solutions. Key to the process is an agreed on assessment tool that matches each household with the best housing solution.

The next North County 100-day challenge kicks off May 1, with the specific goal of each agency housing 40 chronic homeless individuals within 100 days.

Angie Hanifin, Oceanside housing program manager, said one of the biggest challenges to housing is the limited supply and high demand for rental units. Hanifin said the city is looking for rental owners to work with the city.

In its individual efforts Oceanside was graded as doing a standard job in ensuring $13.4 million in federal housing assistance funds was used in full to provide assistance to as many households as possible in 2013-14.

This year the city will receive roughly he same amount of funding to continue to assist those in need with rent vouchers.

With a focus on housing veterans and chronic homeless, those applicants will receive preference for housing assistance. This helps bump them up on the city waiting list of 6,600 low-income and very low-income households waiting for help with rent.

Another bright spot is the city has applies for 40 HUD funded housing vouchers that are earmarked to help homeless veterans. Hanifin said the city would know by the end of the month if it will be awarded the vouchers.

“We’re excited to apply,” Hanifin said.

Oceanside currently assists over 1,600 veterans, seniors, and families with children, and individuals earning an average household income of $16,616.

Beyond providing the basic necessity of a home, there is a variety of regional assistance and city programs that help individuals overcome homelessness. Help ranges from building basic workforce readiness like obtaining an identification card, to career counseling and job training.

Despite efforts there remain about 424 homeless individuals living in Oceanside.