Homeless Programs Update
On Tuesday, January 14, El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell provided an update to the City Council about the City’s efforts to address homelessness and its impacts on the City. Last year, the City spent roughly $640,000 on programs that provide temporary or permanent housing or address the impacts of homelessness. These programs included:
Housing Navigator – The City has contracted with Crisis House to provide a dedicated Housing Navigator that helps find permanent housing for homeless individuals using the City’s housing funds.
A Way Back Home – This Salvation Army program reunites homeless individuals with relatives outside the region.
Shelter – the East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC) provides a non-faith-based shelter and assists individuals in finding permanent housing.
Neighborhood Cleanup Program – Run by the ECTLC, this program helps cleanup trash (abandoned furniture, shopping carts, and remnants of encampments) left in the City’s right-of-way.
Task Forces – The City participates in both the East County and San Diego Regional Homeless Task Forces for collaboration and assistance with program implementation.
City’s Quality of Life Team – This team of City employees addresses quality of life through outreach, enforcement, and community cleanup.
"Collectively, these programs are having an impact on homelessness in El Cajon," stated City Manager Graham Mitchell. "Since 2017, 159 homeless individuals have been connected with permanent housing through the Housing Navigator and the A Way Back Home Program, while ECTLC’s emergency shelter served another 343 individuals last year."
"The City of El Cajon is leading East County in providing shelter space and I am hopeful that surrounding Cities and the County will soon start doing the same," stated Mr. Mitchell. In his presentation, he went on to urge others to provide shelter spaces in neighboring unincorporated areas such as Lakeside and Spring Valley.
The impact of the City’s Quality of Life Team can also be felt throughout the community.
Last year alone the team removed 176 tons of trash and 450 abandoned shopping carts from storm channels, canyons, parks and sidewalks throughout the City.
Given the ongoing success of these programs, the City Manager proposed minor adjustments and suggested increased outreach efforts. Mr. Mitchell also proposed utilizing $250,000 of the City’s Housing Fund to expand shelter space in the City. This would be in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Martin vs. the City of Boise. The ruling limits a City’s ability to enforce camping or sleeping in public ordinances unless shelter space is available in the City.
The City Council voiced support for the proposed program priorities. Next, the City will issue a Request for Qualifications to identify potential partners and solutions to expand shelter space.
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