Housing

County Board Adopts New Framework for Ending Homelessness

a homeless outreach team member talks to a homeless person
An Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with a man who is homeless.

The County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to adopt a new framework that aims to end homelessness in the San Diego region.

A comprehensive presentation shown at the Board meeting focused on how the County will centralize critical expertise and operations, and use equity and data, to better provide housing and supportive services that address the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

Today’s presentation resulted from an early April meeting where the Board approved the establishment of the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities within the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). The new department launched on July 1, 2021, and consists of the Office of Equitable Communities, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and the Office of Homeless Solutions.

To guide existing and future efforts, HHSA has developed the Framework for Ending Homelessness, which is anchored in five strategic domains:

  • Root cause and upstream prevention strategies
  • Diversion and mitigation services
  • Treatment and outreach
  • Emergency/interim housing and resources
  • Permanent housing and supportive services

“This Framework to End Homelessness will allow us to drive a new focused approach to coordination and an expansion of the solution-based programs and services the region desperately needs,” HHSA Director Nick Macchione told the Board.

A pie chart showing hw much the County will spend each year.

Under the approach outlined, the County will focus on creating a person-centered system, one that uses a housing-first approach, maximizes social services interactions and follows evidence-based and data-driven solutions. This will be done to increase affordable and appropriate housing and to ensure homeless prevention and response is done with racial and social equity.

“This strategic unified approach prioritizes communities and populations in San Diego that have been historically left behind,” said Barbara Jiménez, who will be leading the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities as community operations officer.

The framework encompasses the County’s ongoing work and provides a vision to support forward, collaborative and impactful progress. The framework supports the County’s Live Well San Diego vision of healthy, safe and thriving residents. It will provide enhanced funding along with innovative new programming to guide existing and future regional efforts to address homelessness.

According to The Regional Taskforce on Homelessness, the 2020 Point-in-Time Count identified 7,638 people who said they were homeless or in shelters throughout the county. Of those who were unsheltered, 58% reported having a disability and 27% were 55 years or older.

People of color are disproportionally impacted among those experiencing homelessness, with 27.2% identifying as Black or African American—roughly five times the proportion of African Americans in the region—3.4% identified as American Indian or Alaska Native—which is nearly three times the proportion in the region—and 2.8% identifying as Asian.

To implement the new framework, the County will work with people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, impacted residents, community partners and other key stakeholders to ensure racial and social equity in all aspects of homelessness prevention.

“We are ensuring cross collaboration between public safety, public health, behavioral health, self-sufficiency services and other systems that persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness are part of to ensure those cross sections are carefully evaluated and gaps identified to drive our future interventions,” said Omar Passons, Director of the Office of Homeless Solutions.

The Office of Homeless Solutions has hired 32 new people to expand direct outreach and case management services countywide. It also is enhancing existing services in the central and south parts of the county, with new staff being deployed this month in North County and next month in East County. It also is collaborating with a range of government agencies to improve efficient services and support for people experiencing homelessness.

The Board of Supervisors will receive quarterly reports on the progress made in implementing the Framework for Ending Homelessness.

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact