A homeless encampment near downtown San Diego overlooks the I-5 freeway. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city and county are preparing to apply for state homeless housing funds after missing an initial deadline for roughly $61 million reserved for the San Diego region.

Mayor Todd Gloria and Nathan Fletcher, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, announced Thursday that the city and county are setting the stage to seek at least $11.8 million in state Project Homekey dollars to back a 40-unit supportive housing project in El Cerrito. The proposed project includes prefabricated, container-based housing units and a health and rehabilitation clinic.

City housing commissioners are set to vote on the funding application on Monday and county supervisors will weigh in Tuesday on whether to allocate about $11 million to support capital, services and operating costs for the facility. The joint application is due to the state by May 2.

The Thursday announcement comes a month after Gloria and two city councilmen sent a memo to the Housing Commission urging it to look beyond the sort of hotel proposals it won state housing funding for in 2020 and consider a wider array of housing types so the city wouldn’t miss an opportunity to pull in state funds to house homeless residents.

Gloria, Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Councilman Chris Cate at the time asked the Housing Commission to consider options including prefabricated homes to secure Project Homekey funds designed to provide a swift shot in the arm to efforts to house California’s homeless residents. At the time, the county nor any of the cities within it had applied for funds in the second Project Homekey funding round – and the region had already missed out on an easier shot at $61 million initially set aside for San Diego County.

In a Thursday statement, Gloria cheered the partnership between the city and county and said he was grateful for the state’s support of local efforts to combat homelessness.

Elo-Rivera said in an interview that he was confident that the city’s housing agency will also be prepared for the third Project Homekey funding round expected to kick off this summer.

“I think it’s been made clear enough that this is a huge priority of ours,” Elo-Rivera said. “I’m confident that we will have an open dialogue with the Housing Commission, and they are going to be thinking in the most creative ways possible from the jump to secure this funding.”

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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