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Encinitas extends its motel voucher program through June

Encinitas welcoming sign
(Charlie Neuman)

Extra time will allow homeless to find permanent housing

Encinitas will continue to operate its COVID-related, motel housing program for homeless people through the end of June, the City Council unanimously decided Wednesday, April 28.

Adding a few more weeks onto the city’s existing contracts with San Diego County and the nonprofit Community Resource Center will allow the program to wind down in an organized fashion, completing paperwork requirements and helping the latest users find permanent housing, city principal planner Jennifer Gates told the council. Among other things, program organizers are helping the participants obtain their coronavirus vaccinations, she said.

Currently, 13 households, or a total of 17 individual people, are receiving temporary motel housing through the program, Gates said.

Encinitas began offering motel vouchers to homeless people last spring at the start of the pandemic when area residents were ordered to shelter in place, Gates said, calling it a “COVID response” program.

Initially, the city established a short-term, “memorandum of understanding” agreement in mid-March 2020 with the nonprofit Community Resource Center to provide emergency hotel stay vouchers to unhoused people. That agreement was extended twice, and then the city ultimately linked up with San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency to operate a longer-term program, a city staff report notes.

The first agreement between the city and the county agency in May 2020 called for the agency “to provide up to 22 hotel rooms for individuals identified as “high-risk” as defined by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency),” the staff report states. It’s been extended multiple times since that agreement was first inked. The latest extension, which the City Council unanimously approved Wednesday, April 28, will extend the program through June 30.

While the county agency now provides the motel rooms, the Community Resource Center offers case management services, helping participants obtain the services they need.

During the April 28 meeting, two people asked the council how much the program was costing and where the money was coming from, saying the city should be prioritizing other items, including renovating Coast Highway 101.

The city staff report indicates that Encinitas previously set aside $314,250 to fund the voucher program and will add up to $4,550 to keep it operational through the end of June. While the city is handling the expenditures now, Encinitas expects to be reimbursed through the federal coronavirus economic relief act, the report states.

Money will not be required from the city’s General Fund, the city’s main budget, it adds.

— Barbara Henry is a freelancer writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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