With a pair of votes at its Oct. 23 meeting, the Encinitas City Council committed to bolstering its outreach and services to the local homeless population.
The first vote allocated $75,000 from the city’s general fund to hire a consultant to develop a Homeless Action Plan, a template for how the city will conduct outreach and effectively use its resources to combat homelessness. The second launches a Homeless Outreach Pilot Program in partnership with the Community Resource Center, a nonprofit located on Second Street. The program, to be modeled after similar outreach efforts in unincorporated San Diego County and cities including Carlsbad, will have a full-time sheriff’s deputy.
Both votes were approved 4-0. Mayor Catherine Blakespear was absent; she was traveling in her role as a board member for the San Diego Association of Governments, the regional planning agency.
“Homelessness is complex,” said John Van Cleef, executive director of the Community Resource Center. “It is multilayered with many different needs of many different people represented. Homelessness requires solutions that are multifaced and require longterm commitment.”
The annual homeless count tallied 8,102 homeless people in San Diego this year, including 120 in Encinitas. Both figures were slight decreases from 2018. Van Cleef added that a larger “invisible” homeless population, meaning residents who rely on means such as couchsurfing or sleeping in their offices, is often uncounted and unaccounted for. He said the center provided service last year to 860 different Encinitas residents who identified as homeless, dwarfing the city’s homeless count totals in each of the past two years.
Many other counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Kern, Riverside and San Berardino, experienced double-digit percentage increases in their homeless populations. The annual homeless counts are based on street counts conducted by volunteers, as well as data compiled by outreach workers to account for the number of homeless people in places such as hospitals and shelters.
Encinitas City Councilman Tony Kranz said in 1983, shortly after enlisting in the National Guard, he spent two months in Alaska without a permanent home. He had a car, and stayed at a shelter.
“That is something I’ve never forgotten and I do bring that to this issue,” he said.
The city is also receiving support from County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar. Later this month, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider providing the Community Resource Center with a social worker and van to transport individuals to services.
“We can’t allow this to be unaddressed in our community,” Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca said.