VISTA — In just a few short months, the city’s strategic homeless plan is already showing positive signs.
During the Aug. 10 Vista City Council meeting, Sylvia Daniels, Vista’s housing programs manager, reported cleanup efforts have cleared 58 tons of trash and debris from Buena Vista Creek biological preserve.
According to Daniels, clearing the homeless encampments has allowed the city to re-establish a trail system along the Hacienda Drive biological preserve overlay. Additionally, preventive measures aim to keep the area free from biological hazards left by the homeless.
The council also approved contract services with North County Lifeline, Interfaith Community Services and Exodus Recovery, Inc. for pilot programs, rental assistance, shelter beds and a full-time social worker, respectively.
“This has been a long discussion and we had to come together,” Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said. “When it comes to council, it was a team effort … and we came out with a really solid plan. We have a dynamic range of tools. I think we brought together a comprehensive vision for our community.”
The cost for the new services totals $824,958 and the city has invested at least $3.2 million into its homeless plan, Councilman John Franklin said. Daniels, meanwhile, said the latest round of funding includes incorporating the social worker with the internal task force.
With North County Lifeline, the city will run a pilot program using Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 rental assistance funds and a home share program. The home-share program pairs homeowners who want to rent one of their rooms with a qualified candidate.
“North County Lifeline also has stabilization programs … financial literacy classes,” Daniels said, noting the program has many more offerings.
She said the homeless population has been hit hard by the pandemic, thus Elderhelp will assist with screenings for the home share program. Interfaith will provide 10 low-barrier shelter beds, meaning they will more accessible than through some other programs.
The goals of the plan, though, include prevention and improving quality of life, Daniels said.
The council, meanwhile, was thrilled with the early results of the city’s plan to tackle its homeless population.
“This is something we’ve been working hard on the last couple years,” said Councilwoman Amanda Rigby. “I think what we’re doing … I think it’s an example for other agencies to take a look at what we’re doing. We’re taking steps in our community to help our own people.”