County approves $25 million to ease affordable housing shortage

José A. Álvarez
County of San Diego Communications Office

SAN DIEGO – The County Board of Supervisors approved three initiatives June 20 designed to increase the number of affordable housing units and decrease the homeless population in the region.

Proposed by Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Ron Roberts, the initiatives will establish a $25 million affordable housing investment pool and transfer $500,000 from Supervisor Roberts’ Neighborhood Reinvestment account to the County Health and Human Services Agency to underwrite affordable pre-development and planning activities. The third component is identifying 11 County-owned properties for residential development and construction of affordable housing.

The Board instructed county staff to develop guidelines and criteria on how to spend the $25 million, which will come from unallocated county reserve funds.

“The cost of living in San Diego continues to rise and as that happens we see folks across the entire county struggling just to keep a roof over their head,” said Chairwoman Jacob, before the unanimous vote in support. “The creation of this $25 million trust fund is a big step forward in our effort to tackle this housing crisis.”

Currently, there is an affordable housing crisis in San Diego County, and it is being exacerbated by a growing number of homeless people, including families and seniors. The County and its many government and social service partners annually help thousands of people find a stable place to live, but a bigger effort is needed.

The 2017 Point-In-Time Count of homeless individuals and families in the region showed an increase of 5 percent from last year to 9,116. Of those, 5,621 were unsheltered. The same count indicated there are 1,598 homeless people age 55 and older in San Diego County, a 20 percent increase compared to 2016.

“We live in a time where housing needs have outgrown our ability to meet demand,” said Supervisor Roberts. “When it comes to affordable housing and homelessness, we need to think differently. Seniors are one of our most at-risk populations.”

The Board of Supervisors recently approved spending $4.5 million towards the construction of two affordable housing developments in Vista and Ramona consisting of 143 units for seniors.

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