In the past couple of years, in response to increasing concerns about homelessness in the City of Carlsbad, city staff have enhanced efforts to assist those in need of housing and reduce the impacts of homelessness on the community. The Carlsbad City Council approved a multi-departmental Homeless Response Plan in 2017 that takes a “compassionate enforcement” approach to this region-wide problem.
A homeless outreach team in the Police Department made up of specially trained police officers who make regular contact with people experiencing homelessness to form relationships, offer referrals to services and ensure they are complying with the law.
Regular cleanup of encampments to reduce public health and safety risks and other impacts to the community.
Contract with social workers to work with individuals experiencing homelessness and link them to services and support.
Increase the supply of affordable housing.
Provide funding for homeless programs serving those in Carlsbad, including La Posada de Guadalupe men’s shelter, Interfaith Community Services Carlsbad Service Center and the Carlsbad Hiring Center
Coordinate a more comprehensive “point in time” annual homeless count in partnership with the Regional Task Force on Homeless San Diego.
Address the numerous legal constraints that limit legislative and law enforcement powers with regard to homeless individuals.
Connect with regional task forces, nonprofit service providers and other community coalitions to identify additional resources for meeting the needs of Carlsbad’s homeless.
Ensure regular coordination among members of the city’s homeless response team to coordinate efforts affecting parks, open space, encampments, housing, public health and law enforcement
Since adoption of the plan the city has been actively engaged in its implementation, including the following:
Worked with approximately 180 homeless residents, resulting in:
8 moved into permanent supportive housing
4 moved into sober living
4 to inpatient substance abuse treatment programs
11 into emergency shelter placement
14 connected with mental health services
19 connected with a primary care doctor for medical services
Made $565,819 in federal grants to help low-income residents, focusing on services and other assistance for the city’s homeless residents.
Developed a resource guide for city departments to help with referrals and information to the homeless residents and available to the public at city libraries, Housing & Neighborhood Services office and the Senior Center.
Launched a "Home Share" program in partnership with ElderHelp to offer alternative housing solutions to Carlsbad residents. This program matches home providers with housing seekers through carefully monitored agreements.
Developed an encampment tracking, enforcement and clean-up system to prioritize weekly clean-ups. More than 200 homeless camps have been removed (many repeat clean ups at the same locations).
Responded to approximately 4,480 calls for service related to homeless/transient incidents or concerns; these incidents or concerns frequently involved repeated contacts with the same homeless persons within similar locations.
Made 2,818 law enforcement contacts with homeless individuals (many repeat).
Made 145 arrests (warrants, drug possession, under influence of drug/alcohol, weapon violations, stolen property).
Hired two full time rangers in the Police Department to patrol parks, trails and open spaces in Carlsbad.
With the start of the new fiscal year July 1, the city is hiring additional staff to support the Homeless Response Plan:
One new sergeant and two new officers to the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, which will allow specially trained officers to be available seven days a week. The city previously had two full time officers supervised by a police sergeant who also oversaw other specialized teams.
A full-time manager for the city’s Homeless Response Plan.
A “housing navigator” position to help people find rental housing.
Marie Jones-Kirk, program manager
Community members with concerns about homelessness are encouraged to contact the Homeless Outreach Team at 760-931-2249 firstname.lastname@example.org
To report a crime or suspicious activity in progress, please call 9-1-1.
Although the reasons for homelessness are complex and varied, experts generally agree that the 2008 recession is a major reason for the recent increase. Many people lost their homes during the recession, which caused the demand for rental housing to skyrocket, thus driving up rents. This made it even harder for people with past evictions, low credit scores and limited cash to find housing. There have also been recent changes in the law that lessen the sentences for certain crimes, resulting in tens of thousands of people statewide released from prisons and probation terms earlier than in the past.
Is it illegal to be homeless?
No. Homelessness is not illegal. People who are homeless are welcome to use public services and visit facilities, such as the library, senior center and city parks. However, certain activities are illegal in Carlsbad regardless of who is involved. These include using or selling illegal drugs; consuming alcohol in certain locations; public intoxication; public urination and defecation; failing to adhere to parking restrictions, such as overnight parking in public lots; camping on public streets; and allowing water to run off into the gutter and storm drain system.
Why is the city concerned about homelessness? The City of Carlsbad wants to provide the best quality of life for all who live here. Helping those living without permanent, adequate shelter access support and resources improves their lives and the quality of life in the greater community.
How has homelessness affected Carlsbad? The city has experienced problems with homeless encampments in open space and habitat preserve areas, as well as in public facilities, such as landscape medians, under building overhangs and at construction sites. Encampments often pose a public health and safety risk due to lack of sanitation and fire danger. Homeless individuals have illegally used electrical sources to power RVs and other equipment, and left trash and debris, fecal matter and other pollutants behind for city crews to clean up. Many petty thefts and other crimes have been linked to people who are homeless.
How does the city help ensure affordable housing is available in Carlsbad? Lack of affordable housing continues to be a concern in Carlsbad, as it is in most coastal communities in California. The City of Carlsbad has several programs to increase affordable housing opportunities for lower income households. Carlsbad's mandatory “inclusionary housing program” requires housing developers to provide 15 percent of their total units to low income households. The city also administers state and federal affordable housing and rental assistance programs for those who meet federally designated low income thresholds.