By Chris Ward
Recently, I introduced an initiative to bring much-needed resources to the unsheltered homeless population in Hillcrest, in an effort to highlight the need for greater outreach resources throughout our neighborhoods.
The Connect Hillcrest initiative was a one-month pilot program to provide coordinated and concentrated street outreach in partnership with the San Diego Housing Commission, the County of San Diego and a number of service providers. This is a nationally-endorsed best practice to address our on-street crisis by employing existing teams of trained service professionals who are empowered to build relationships and move individuals from the streets into a stable housing situation.
Coordinated street outreach requires us to meet people where they are, evaluate their needs, and then proactively and warmly direct them into a stable environment where they can connect with services that move them on the path toward permanent housing.
Our region needs to embrace a more focused, results-driven approach to homelessness, which prioritizes continuous outreach and successfully connects people to the services they need. This is what we’re trying to accomplish with Connect Hillcrest: a person-centric and data-driven approach to homeless outreach that is consistently improved upon and aligned with best practices. As we are in receipt of a huge gift from the state of California to address homelessness this year, and with my direction, the City Council has allocated millions of dollars to expand outreach, among other programs. It is my hope that the knowledge gained from this program will give local government and service providers the data needed to improve upon current homeless outreach protocols while expanding services to other impacted communities across our region.
Launching this program was only possible due to the interest and cooperation of partners like Alpha Project, Veterans Villages of San Diego, PATH, Father Joe’s, and others that service specialized populations. These nonprofits all contributed to Connect Hillcrest, providing a wide range of street outreach services because each person has a distinct range of needs that must be met.
One immediate takeaway from this program is the knowledge that our region’s outreach efforts can and must strike a balance between respecting the rights of those in crisis on our streets and effectively responding to the needs and safety concerns of the communities we serve. Also, the data gathered will be crucial as I continue to explore opportunities to update the city’s current outreach protocol and engage decision-makers in Sacramento to secure ongoing funding to expand our outreach teams to our most impacted communities.
My office will carefully monitor the impact of this program and I will continue to support policies and programs that are effective to move homeless individuals and families off our streets and into safe, secure permanent housing.
If you have any questions about Connect Hillcrest, please contact my office at 619-236-6633 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a comprehensive list of the work I have done over the past two years to realign our city’s approach to homelessness in accordance with national best practices, visit: https://bit.ly/2Ul3bYk.
— Councilmember Chris Ward serves the 13 communities in District 3, which include the Uptown neighborhoods of Old Town, Mission Hills, Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park, South Park, Normal Heights, Bankers Hill and others.