SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 1, in favor of applying for a grant, and purchasing three hotels and one apartment complex in San Diego to turn it into housing for the homeless.
San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond was the only one who voted against the plan. El Cajon and Coronado mayors have spoken out against the plan, along with several people during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
The plan is a collaboration between the state, county and city and will cost a total of $153 million for 320 units.
The properties that are planning to be purchased and converted into homeless housing are a Ramada in Mission Beach, an apartment complex in Ocean Beach and two Extended Stay America Suites — one in Mission Valley and another in Fashion Valley.
The plan as of now, would spend $478,000 per unit. It’s a higher price and less units than what was initially presented from the Housing Commission earlier this year.
“As a county entity, I think we should really be focusing our money on treatment and services.. not on taxpayer hotels as homeless housing that do not require treatment,” Desmond said.
Treatment will be offered to residents, but not required. Desmond believes the program should require people to attend treatments. Under this Housing First Program, people can be accepted regardless of drug or alcohol use, which is what led Desmond to vote against the plan.
“To provide a space that optimizes people will engage in care and then be successful,” a county employee said during the meeting in response to Desmond’s objections.
“I think any effort to reduce homelessness must require treatment and care, taxpayers deserve accountability for the millions of dollars spent, they are tired of seeing the homeless problem persist,” Desmond said.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells has been vocal against the plan, saying this does not address the root cause of homelessness.
“There’s a lot of drug and alcohol abuse on the street and that’s really the biggest problem, we’re not going to solve the problem unless we agree on what it is,” Wells said.
Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey has also spoken out against the plan. He said in a statement Tuesday, “I strongly urge the decision-makers to reconsider this misguided approach and allocate resources toward more effective strategies.”
“I think it’s not cost-effective especially for the tax payers, over 300,000 per room,” said Rachel Hayes, who used to live in a hotel turned into housing for the homeless. She says she doesn’t agree with the approved plan because of the high price tag.