The Carlsbad City Council has approved a comprehensive package of initiatives to reduce homelessness, one of its top goals.
Under the direction of a new Housing & Homeless Services Department, the city will create bridges to permanent housing, while two new officers in the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team will help address resident concerns about unlawful activity.
The goal identified by the City Council is:
Reduce the homeless unsheltered population, among those who want help, by 50% within five years (and provide quarterly progress reports until the city hits that goal).
Some of the key activities to support this goal will include:
Hire a new contractor specializing in helping people access disability and social security benefits, CalWORKS and CalFresh benefits, veteran benefits, stimulus checks, employment programs and other aid available.
Leverage county resources including the North County Homeless Pilot Program and a countywide homeless outreach program contract for additional outreach support.
Enhance clinical services at the La Posada Emergency Shelter in Carlsbad.
Operate a one-year hotel/motel room voucher pilot program to provide shelter for women, families, people living in encampments, and those with underlying medical conditions and over the age of 65. Carlsbad has no emergency shelter for women, who make up nearly a third of its identified homeless population. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a source of funds for the program through September 2021.
Extend and expand the Community Resource Center rapid rehousing program that provides short to medium term rental assistance to help households experiencing homelessness secure and maintain housing with appropriate resources.
Form a homeless action subcommittee of the City Council to address local and regional goals related to homelessness, which would be a standing committee and operate under the Brown Act, similar to other city boards and commissions. Provide city staff support for the subcommittee.
The City Council chose from a range of options staff offered at the April 29 City Council meeting. To help reduce costs, the City Council decided to hold off on hiring two new workers and instead partner with the county, which recently announced a North County pilot program for homelessness. Hiring a contractor to help people access benefits instead of a new full-time city staff person also helped reduce the overall cost of the program.
The City Council will receive quarterly reports from staff working on the city’s Homeless Response Plan to track progress and the effectiveness of individual initiatives.
Funding for the new programs is estimated to be $5.5 million for the first year, although part of the voucher program is reimbursable by the federal government.