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San Diego receives $6 million grant to fight homelessness

San Diego gets a $6 million grant to hes ease the homeless problem.
Photo credit:
HBA

The fight against homelessness in San Diego got a $6 million boost on Wednesday as the city was approved for a grant from the state.

Used jointly between the city and county, the funds will allow progression of programs which will not only help find housing for people, but also contribute to the cost of psychological care and treatment according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

The city will receive $1 million a year over three years and use it to council people on turning their lives around rather than incarcerate them and jam the justice system.

"It's a pilot program that's proving to be worthy of funding, a great deal of funding," City Attorney Mara Elliott said. "We're hoping this is the beginning of new ideas and new approaches to tackling homelessness."

The county will utilize their money for a new program to assist people with criminal charges and provide them with access to mental health professionals and resources to battle drug and alcohol addiction.

They also will provide job training and find homes for 60 people at a time.

Fifty-eight applicants vied for the $104 million funding which was a result of a 2014 ballot measure, Proposition 47, only 23 were awarded grants.

San Diego was deemed the most worthy of the grants, although this does not entitle them to more.

The money will be available on June 16 and the city will seek out the help of other agencies that can provide shelter and treatment.

For over a year San Diego has been requesting funding from Proposition 47 in order to expand the San Diego Misdemeanant At-Risk Track (SMART) program, which helps people with misdemeanors do community service in lieu of jail. 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says the award is a great weapon in the fight against homelessness. 

“The fact that San Diego ranked among the highest in the state for this grant funding proves that we have a winning formula for addressing homelessness through the SMART program,” Faulconer said Wednesday. “Now we’ll be able to expand SMART and provide meaningful incentives to help hundreds more of our homeless neighbors turn their lives around.”

Recently people have become concerned with the homeless population in Hillcrest. The Hillcrest Business Association has even hired a private security team to help ease the amount of displaced people in the neighborhood.

Executive Director of the HBA, Benjamin Nicholls says he is not sure how the grant money will be used, but he's optimistic the benefits will extend into his community too. 

"I will say that concerning Hillcrest, I hope they spend some of the money to engage with homeless people on the streets and relocate them into programs or shelters," said Nicholls. "The dramatic number of problem people in Hillcrest need to be contacted and helped into a program.  If the money doesn't address people where they are (hanging out on the doorsteps of Hillcrest businesses) it won't be helpful."