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SUPERVISOR FLETCHER GOING TO WORK TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS; WILL WORK WITH PARTNERS, COUNTY STAFF ON REGIONAL STRATEGY

01/20/23

 

Ending Veteran homelessness is one of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s priorities for his second term. Today, Supervisor Fletcher, who is also a United States Marine Corps combat veteran, was surrounded by other veterans and homelessness advocates at the VFW Osmond K. Ingram Ship 1774 and American Legion Post 282 in La Mesa when he announced he wants to develop a regional strategy to end veteran homelessness in the County of San Diego. 

Ending Veteran Homelessness is possible,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “I am committing that one of my highest priorities for my second term will be working to end Veteran Homelessness in San Diego County. This is a regional issue and we must act with greater urgency. I am going to get the County of San Diego more involved in the fight to end it.” 

According to last year’s Point in Time Count, our region has nearly 700 homeless veterans and about half of those were staying in temporary shelters. The Biden Administration and VA Secretary Denis Richard McDonough have made a series of resources available with the goal of helping local jurisdictions end veteran homelessness. Supervisor Fletcher’s efforts will seek to leverage these resources plus local commitments to get veterans off the street. 

To help address this regionally, Supervisor Fletcher wants to: 

  1. Convene leaders working on this issue and return with a plan in three months of how to end Veteran homelessness in San Diego County

  2. Introduce a policy next month to create a County task force of leaders from different County departments to determine what existing and additional County resources are necessary to end veteran homelessness; and

  3. Work on removing barriers to housing for veterans such as adequate housing vouchers and support to quickly match veterans with housing options; and

  4. A landlord campaign that will result in more placements of veterans with VASH (Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing) Vouchers; and

  5. Ensure the County’s legislative agenda is positioned to support getting Veterans off the streets and into housing.

Supervisor Fletcher also said he would work with the San Diego delegation to bring more resources to San Diego County. 

“I have already been in touch with Congressman Mike Levin to let him know I will need his support as we ramp up our efforts,” said Supervisor Fletcher.

The San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, who was present at today’s press conference, has been working with regional leaders to tackle this issue, but they are excited that Supervisor Fletcher has raised his hand to lead.   

“A couple years ago through the Built for Zero initiative to begin to develop the data set around ending Veteran homelessness, but with Supervisor Fletcher, a combat veteran who has driven results on other veteran-related issues taking on the challenge of ending Veteran homeless, we now have champion, a leader that is ready to roll up their sleeves and work with us to drive this goal across the finish line,” said Tamera Kohler, CEO, Regional Task Force on Homelessness.

Around Veteran’s Day last year, Supervisor Fletcher took part in a listening session with formerly homeless Veterans, alongside City of San Diego leaders and homeless service providers, to get their perspectives on the challenges and barriers that cause veterans to fall into homelessness. 

One of those formerly homeless veterans was Jexsi Grey who is now a Program Manager for Lived Experience Advisors. He shared his testimony and why he is glad to see someone championing this cause at today’s announcement. 

"While I believe San Diego is getting a lot of things right addressing the homeless crisis, Veterans homelessness is solvable and within reach right now,”  said Grey. “The network and resources available to address and prevent those that have served our country from sleeping on a sidewalk are robust and replete with best practices we can replicate to address the overall issue."

Other attendees at today’s announcement included: 

  • Nicole Loebach, VA, HUD-VASH Coordinator

  • Brigit Cooper, Chief of Operations County Office of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities

  • Wilfred Quintong, Director, Office of Military and Veteran Affairs 

  • Captain Lee Gill, VFW La Mesa Osmond K. Ingram Ship 1774

  • Livy Lazaro, Commander, Don Diego VFW Post 7420

  • Robert Vivar, Repatriated Veteran

  • Bruce Carron, Formerly Homeless Veteran 

  • Ron Stark, President of San Diego Veterans Coalition 

  • James Smith II, Co-founder, Black Deported Veterans of America