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County creates homeless department, launches North County outreach



The county’s efforts to help homeless people will expand beyond the unincorporated area and into cities as part of a new department created by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 6.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said he proposed the new Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities as an efficient way to collaborate with other jurisdictions and partners throughout the county and to leverage state and federal funding.

“Centralizing our work involving people experiencing homelessness in one department will make us more effective at putting the unsheltered on a path to safe, secure housing and make us a better regional partner,” Fletcher said in a statement released before Tuesday’s meeting. “Taking this step signifies a renewed commitment to addressing homelessness, not just in the unincorporated areas, but across the region.”

In a related action Tuesday night, supervisors agreed to launch a homeless outreach pilot program that would cover much of North County, which Fletcher said will work well within the new department.

While county health and human service programs are open to everyone in the county, including homeless people who live in incorporated cities, most of the county’s efforts to directly help homeless people have been focused on unincorporated areas. Those efforts have increased in recent years and include the Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Assistance Resource Team formed in June 2019.

The new Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities, which will be part of the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, is expected to strengthen the county’s collaboration with regional service providers and streamline the delivery of those services to homeless people in unincorporated and incorporated areas, Fletcher said.

Tuesday’s board action also directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to suspend a May 2020 directive to develop an ordinance intended to minimize the impact of homelessness on county parks.

“Making such changes to ordinances goes against best practice and risks punishing someone simply for being unsheltered,” Fletcher wrote in a letter to the board. READ MORE