Local elected officials haven’t gotten far on lobbying for a change to decades-old formulas that keep San Diego’s share of homelessness funding low compared to other places with fewer homeless people.
San Diego’s homeless population ranked third among big U.S. cities last year, but the share of funding San Diego could apply for was smaller than 17 other cities, based on 1970s-era formulas used by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department.
After learning about the disparity, a chorus of lawmakers said they’d do something about it, including three local congressional representatives, Mayor Bob Filner and the county Board of Supervisors.
It’s been a couple of months. We wanted to know how the effort’s going. Here are some updates:
The House delegation:
• Rep. Scott Peters sent a letter to HUD asking why San Diego “receives a disproportionately low share” of homelessness funding.
“The response has been slow, but our San Diego office is continuing to reach out to local HUD counterparts to try to speed up the response,” said Peters’ spokeswoman, MaryAnne Pintar. Pintar said Peters is also trying to learn why HUD is closing its San Diego office.
Meanwhile, Peters is pushing for another federal grant program that would help shelter homeless veterans.
• Rep. Juan Vargas’ staff had “the first of what we hope will be numerous conversations” about HUD’s homelessness funding and how it could grow for San Diego, said Vargas spokeswoman Dianna Zamora. She said HUD will ask for public comment on the formulas later this year.
• Rep. Susan Davis’s spokesman Aaron Hunter said HUD has not responded to his office’s inquiry.
Mayor Bob Filner:
Filner said Thursday that he’s met with federal officials. “When the statistics are as clear as these, there’s something wrong,” he told us in March. But he didn’t have great optimism that Congress could fix the problem quickly.
“You put in one sentence, ‘Congress,’ and, ‘what’s happening?’” he said. “Nothing happens in Congress! We’re working with them to change the formula. But that’s, you know, a bureaucratic thing and who knows how long that will take?”
County Board of Supervisors:
Supervisor Greg Cox planned to meet with the county’s Washington D.C. lobbyist Thursday, and plans to travel to the Capitol next month to talk about various issues including this one, said his spokesman, Luis Monteagudo. The board voted in March to lobby for a change to the formulas.
I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.