A photo of the Ramada Inn on Midway Drive in San Diego, which is slated for affordable housing. (Courtesy of the city of San Diego)

Why this matters

Estimates show San Diego has at least 6,500 unhoused residents. Mayor Todd Gloria has said solving homelessness is the city’s top priority.

California awarded $20.8 million to San Diego to expand housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Officials will use the money to create 75 rental units for currently unhoused San Diegans — a step toward addressing the worsening homelessness crisis where 3,300 people are unsheltered citywide.

It’s part of a statewide initiative called Homekey, which provides cities, counties and housing authorities with grant money to sustain and develop a wide range of housing types: from developing multifamily apartment buildings to converting existing properties, all for unhoused residents or those on the brink of homelessness.

The San Diego Housing Commission plans to develop two projects — one in Ocean Beach and another in the Midway District — with wraparound supportive services, such as case management, mental health and substance abuse treatment. All of these new units will be set aside for those without housing, officials said in an announcement this week.

These units, known as permanent supportive housing, are proven to end homelessness for the most vulnerable and difficult to serve, as well as save taxpayer money in the long run with fewer police and hospital interactions for those who would otherwise be on the street.

City leaders celebrated the news this week in public statements.

“Outreach and shelter are critical components of our efforts to address homelessness, but what truly will solve this crisis is housing,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said. “That’s why this Homekey funding is crucial to our progress in meeting our city’s top challenge.”

“The evidence could not be clearer,” said Sean Elo-Rivera, council president. “Housing ends homelessness — specifically homes with support services that meet the unique needs of people experiencing homelessness.” 

The grant comes at a time when nearly twice as many San Diegans are becoming homeless as those who manage to find housing, and more than 1,300 people are bedding down on downtown sidewalks.

Half of San Diego’s housing supply are rental units and less than 1% are vacant, records show. The lack of availability has driven up rents by 15%, according to a study from the Southern California Rental Housing Association.

Right now, San Diego is failing to meet the demand for housing as population growth significantly outpaces new construction. The city needs more than 13,500 new housing units every year to meet demand for all income levels by the end of the decade. Last year, officials only authorized construction on a third of that.

The Housing Commission will use nearly $17 million to buy and rehabilitate the Ramada Inn on Midway Drive, creating 62 affordable single-room occupancy homes, also known as SRO’s. Another $3.9 million will go toward the purchase and rehabilitation of a vacant apartment building on Abbott Street in Ocean Beach, creating 13 affordable units. 

Once officials receive the Homekey funding, the state requires it to be spent within 12 months and units to be occupied within an additional three months.

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Cody Dulaney is an investigative reporter at inewsource focusing on social impact and government accountability. Few things excite him more than building spreadsheets and knocking on the door of people who refuse to return his calls. When he’s not ruffling the feathers of some public official, Cody...