Nimby Versus Concerned Citizens
If someone does not support the methodology being utilized or questions the efficacy of the Housing First Model- the media, the government, and the developers like to label these residents as NIMBYS or that they are heartless and don't want to help the homeless. The fact is that there are a lot of people out there who absolutely want to help the homeless and who want to increase the availability of more affordable housing in San Diego, but we see a city government that has taken in tens of millions of dollars and squandered it with very little impact if any, in reducing the number of homeless people living on our streets( according to the Point in Time Count homelessness is down 6%- but as a VOSD article points out, many were excluded as data is only taken on one night and if counted the number of homeless living on the streets has actually increased). A city government that has used money that citizens have given to them and wasted it with a regional task force, in outrageously expensive buildings, helping subsidize bridge tents, and in the red tape of bureaucracy. Now, the city government is asking tax payers to pay more property taxes instead of curbing their lax spending. We need to follow in the footsteps of Seattle and demand accountability from our elected officials and request an audit outlining the effectiveness of the money already spent.
WHere is the data that supports that the money was used effectively?
It has been extremely difficult to find any public data suggesting that any of the measures put in place have been effective. According to Barbara Bry, "As chair of the budget committee, I am concerned about the best way we spend our money on addressing the homeless issue,". The city is constantly spending money with no decrease in cost or homeless population. In May, the city allocated another $2.5 million towards the homeless bridge tents but, recent data indicates that the money was ineffectively spent. With a 10% exit rate, they are failing to achieve their 65% goal. The Regional Task Force website has a data dashboard that the public can access and manipulate, yet there is no data showing the efficacy of Housing First or that these interventions have been successful.
MOre wasteful spending
In 2015-2016 the city and county spend $635 million on combating the homeless. This means $317 million per year was spent and if we do the calculation for 2016 alone,: $317 million divided by 9,116 homeless(2017 PITC ) = $34,774 spent per homeless person per year. Last year the city spent $6.5 million dollars on 3 new homeless shelters and $11 million on a hotel that will be used as transitional housing. Earlier this year, Mayor Faulkner spent $7 million on a property without the benefit of an independent appraisal. Faulkner's 2600 square foot facility does not appear to be intended for homeless housing, rather as a housing navigation center where "homeless people can sign up to access services and transition from the street into supportive and permanent housing". These price tags are shocking.
In February, a San Diego City Council committee advanced a proposed ballot measure that would increase property tax to pay for more homeless housing. This measure will more than likely be on the November ballot. Accountability is crucial, San Diego needs to provide its residents with a public audit of their spending, and hold their elected officials accountable for wasteful spending instead of taxing homeowners of San Diego.