Mayor Todd Gloria delivers 2023 State of the City address at the Civic Theatre on Jan. 10, 2023.
Mayor Todd Gloria delivers 2023 State of the City address at the Civic Theatre on Jan. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A couple weeks ago, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria asked a question during a press conference. He wanted to know how many cities in the county were applying for a state grant that allows cities to quickly expand housing opportunities for homeless Californians.

First, some background: The state is currently accepting applications for Homekey funding — that’s the grant I mentioned above. The funding can be used, for example, to purchase and convert motels into housing with supportive services, but there are other options such as new construction and other rehab projects.

As we reported early last year, San Diego and other cities missed a deadline for Homekey funds set aside for the region. Never again, Gloria said.

Then, last summer, the city of San Diego got funding for a project in El Cerrito. The Union-Tribune has a story on that project’s progress. It could open in December.

The city of San Diego has shared its plans to apply for the grant to purchase several properties. But as our reporter Will Huntsberry reported, at least one property fell through, and that means fewer homes for now-homeless people. Reporters were asking the mayor about our story at that press conference.

OK, so back to Gloria’s question. After he explained what the city was doing to move forward with the other properties, he asked, nay dared, “I might draw your attention and ask, what other jurisdictions are applying for Homekey dollars in the county of San Diego? I’ll wait for that reporting.”

Wait No Longer

With help from reporter Tigist Layne, I reached out to all the cities. We heard back from 11. And didn’t get responses in time from six.

Chisme: The city of Chula Vista “intends to apply for the first time for Homekey fund,” a city spokesperson told me. The city is eying a 31-room motel on Walnut Avenue.

Chula Vista plans to seek up to $7 million in Homekey funds to rehabilitate the property, but if it’s not awarded a state grant, it could use other funds for the property, according a staff report. The City Council will discuss the application on Tuesday.

Not applying: Del Mar, Coronado, Santee, Vista, Carlsbad, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, National City, Oceanside and Poway.

Some reps from these cities told me that they aren’t applying because they haven’t identified eligible properties. Others told me they are finding other ways to participate. Imperial Beach has had discussions with neighboring cities about projects they could partner on. It’s also in the process of creating a full-time position to address the its homeless population’s needs.

Status Update on a Homeless Shelter

View through the fence of the Chula Vista Village at Otay, a 65 white, prefab shelter units for the homeless on July 18, 2023.
The Chula Vista Village at Otay on July 18, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

It has been two months since the city of Chula Vista opened its first homeless shelter, so we wanted to check in on how things were going. The shelter is made of of 65 prefabricated units equipped with electricity and two twin beds.

Voice of San Diego intern Kathryn Gray revealed that of the 65 units, only 20 are in use. That doesn’t mean the property has 20 clients, officials told us their capacity ranges from five to 20 people. They declined to get more specific.

Remember: It took a long time for the city to get the project off the ground. Officials said supply chain issues from the pandemic delayed their open date. It’s also a reason they are using less than a third of the units, Gray found. There are ongoing repairs to the property forcing the city to cap the site’s capacity.

Read the full story here.

More Chisme to Start Your Week

  • By Wednesday we learned more about departures at The San Diego Union-Tribune. A big one was Jeff Light, editor and publisher, who worked for the paper for 13 years. We rounded up some of the latest news in our Morning Report newsletter, but I’m sure by Sunday there will be more news. To all my former colleagues: You are wonderful journalists and it was such an honor to work with you.
  • Jakob McWhinney explains how the San Diego County Office of Education is “nudging” kids out of chronic absenteeism. That term is used when a student misses 10 percent of school days. More and more kids are being classified as chronically absent and the office of ed is using non-punitive methods such as nudge letters. Those tell parents how many days of school their child has lost and how that compares to other students. They also provide information on the negative effects of missing too much school. Read the story here.
  • Listen for my cool pun on the Podcast this week. But also stay for the good content and political mailer analysis. Tweet me (@andrealopezvil) if you hear it and I’ll take you out for a cup of coffee and some chisme.

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She welcomes conversations...

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  1. Thank you VSD for this excellent article!
    It’s clear that the County needs to take the lead on the homeless situation. They need to hold all cities and unincorporated communities responsible to do their fair share. The City of San Diego alone can no longer shoulder this burden for everyone else!
    If they keep trying, d/t will go the way of San Francisco and LA’s skid row and this will reflect on our whole region.

    The County already gets our tax dollars for mental health services, drug/alcohol
    services, care for the indigent and those on Conservatorship. And they have the workforce who are already serving these populations.
    In fact, all candidates currently running for D4 Supervisor should debate how they would implement and spread responsibility for housing and services for the unhoused throughout the County. Simply collaborating with the City is not the right approach. This must be a Regional effort.
    Then let Mayor Gloria focus on keeping our beautiful City vibrant and safe for all!

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