CEO Deacon Jim Answers: Is the Interim Housing Program Working?

Josh and Mom

Father Joe’s Villages’ Therapeutic Childcare team helped Josh recognize his emotions, analyze the impact of his actions and identify coping strategies. Today, a few years older and a lot wiser about the impact of his behavior, Josh is a shining example to many people, young and old alike. Watch his story online.

Written by Deacon Jim Vargas, May 27, 2016

Homelessness in San Diego is a year-round problem that requires a year-round solution.

Newly implemented in July 2015, The City of San Diego’s interim housing program, which is administered by the Housing Commission and run by Father Joe’s Villages, is a more systematic and cost effective alternative to San Diego’s former temporary winter shelters. The interim shelter program is a solution designed not only to get people off the streets, but also to connect them to the support and services they need to establish permanent self-sufficiency.

Though still in its first year, this more effective investment of funds is already producing promising results. Data already show that 53 percent of clients are exiting to longer-term housing options, as compared to 26 percent from the winter tents.

That’s more than double.

Moreover, 17 percent of individuals who exit the interim shelter program do so in order to move into permanent housing. During the five months that the winter tents were open, 14 percent of visitors were leaving to move into permanent housing – and there was no help at all for the other seven months of the year.

Despite the early success, we have to remember that the interim shelter is designed to facilitate a system that is still being built.  While the winter tents were designed only to provide a temporary solution, the role of the interim shelter is to increase efficiency in the system by helping get people off the streets and into the most appropriate housing option or program for them.

To date, many of those resources do not yet exist.

This is why we are disappointed by the recent negative stance used in a
Voice of San Diego story on this issue. The real truth is that we have seen very positive results in the first ten months of the program—and we look forward to even more. San Diego’s ability to get people off the streets and into the housing they need will take time and a commitment from the community to develop enough of the necessary resources.

In the meantime, by investing in the interim shelter, we are investing in a San Diego that connects people to the resources they need to thrive independently.