Hafsa Kaka, director of the city of San Diego's Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, in 2021. / Photo courtesy of Mayor Todd Gloria's Office
Hafsa Kaka, former director of the city of San Diego's Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, in 2021. / Photo courtesy of Mayor Todd Gloria's Office

Mayor Todd Gloria’s homelessness czar is departing City Hall after less than two years on the job. 

Gloria announced Monday that Hafsa Kaka, who became director of the city’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department in August 2021, is leaving that post at the end of this week to take on “a new role of regional significance in the area of homelessness” that will be announced in coming weeks. 

Gloria also revealed that City Hall veteran Sarah Jarman, who previously worked in the city’s homelessness department and on housing policy for former City Councilman Scott Sherman, will begin leading the department April 3.  

The announcements come less than a month after a city reorganization that shifted the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department under the city’s neighborhood services division rather than have it report directly to Gloria. Gloria had campaigned on the need to have homeless services report to his office to ensure the buck stopped with him on the city’s foremost challenge but recently said the move aligned with new city COO Eric Dargan’s vision that all departments should team up to address the city’s most complex challenges. 

Kaka, who previously served as Riverside’s homeless solutions officer and held other posts throughout southern California, hasn’t had an easy ride in San Diego. 

Her time in San Diego has coincided with a visible increase in street homelessness, particularly in downtown and neighboring communities where a downtown business group tracked a 79 percent spike in unsheltered residents during Kaka’s tenure. The spike has come as Kaka has helped oversee efforts to add dozens of shelter beds and other increased service offerings, a reflection of the regional homelessness response system’s inability to keep up with the number of people falling into homelessness

Insiders and advocates have also been critical of Kaka throughout her tenure, arguing that she hasn’t had the political savvy or chops for the role despite more than 15 years of experience working in the homeless service industry. She has also often failed to directly answer City Councilmembers’ questions at public meetings, often speaks in talking points that can frustrate stakeholders and was at the center of a kerfuffle last year with the Housing Commission over a since-reversed city plan to end three programs that help unhoused San Diegans move into housing. 

The politically charged role hasn’t been an easy one for anyone who came before Kaka. Former Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s first homelessness czar departed the gig after seven months and her replacement moved to a Housing Commission post after just over a year on the job. Another bureaucrat moved to another city department after a few months. 

Keely Halsey, who served as Faulconer’s chief of homelessness strategy, had the most staying power, serving in the post for about three years. She worked closely with Jarman, who will now take over the department. 

In a release announcing Kaka’s departure and thanking her for her contributions, Gloria’s office noted that Kaka’s department has increased the number of shelter beds by 68 percent, and expanded both the city’s safe parking program for people living in vehicles and its non-police street outreach program.  

The release also noted that Jarman previously oversaw his homelessness strategies’ department’s Project and Program Development Unit which made her responsible for hiring and supervising staff, monitoring $60 million in contracts in programs and coordinating with local, state and federal stakeholders.  

Jarman also worked on homelessness policy issues and attended community meetings to represent the city when Faulconer was mayor. 

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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  1. More insanity at 202 C Street and San Diego voters swallow this BS! Please God, tell me how this is possible.

  2. Failing upward. They gratuitously included a picture so we could all see as if we didn’t already know.

    1. I wish they had not included a picture of that fraud. She is truly disgusting.

  3. Can VOSD provide the City’s the budget for the Homeless Strategies Department (salaries and benefits) and what exactly the department does?

    It would helpful to know where all the money goes instead of articles that restate the number of homeless is increasing and we aren’t spending enough money to address the problem.

  4. Kaka fails and bails.
    Goodbye, useless bureaucrat. The homeless have better staying power than you do.

  5. Do any VOSD old-timers recall Jim Jones from the comments section of those days?

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