San Diego, CA

San Diego spends $153 million on hotels to house the homeless

Beth Torres

It works out to about $478,000 per unit
Photo byrh2010/123rf

What is the recent plan to deal with San Diego’s homeless problem?

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has voted to move forward with a plan to purchase three hotels and an apartment complex to provide housing for a portion of the homeless in San Diego. Cost to the taxpayers is estimated at $153 million.

The vote was 3-1 in favor. A “no” vote was cast by County Supervisor Jim Desmond. Here is his explanation:

“Today's legislation fails to address the root causes of homelessness and lacks the necessary accountability for taxpayer funds. Spending over 153 million taxpayer dollars at 478 thousand dollars per unit is not the solution.”  

Desmond elaborates on his thinking in this Fox News video.

What portion of the current homeless population will potentially be helped?

By my calculations, about 13%. A recent Fox News article says:

“The plan is a collaboration between the state, county and city and will cost a total of $153 million for 320 units.”

This report by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness lists the “City of San Diego Unsheltered” count as 2,494.

The percentage could be higher if each unit could house multiple residents. 

Are other San Diego area politicians also questioning this proposal?

Yes. In the following video by San Diego broadcaster KUSI, Coronado mayor Richard Bailey and El Cajon mayor Bill Wells explain some of the reasons they doubt whether buying these properties is an effective use of taxpayer funds.

Do County Supervisor Desmond and the mayors have suggestions they believe will be more effective?

They do. Desmond and the others interviewed point out that much of the California state funding for this project is tied to the Housing First model. Since this approach does not require any kind of mandatory treatment for those receiving housing assistance, they believe it will be ineffective.

All three believe that addressing what they consider the “root cause” for homelessness — drug abuse and “mental illness” — is an essential requirement for dealing with, and hopefully resolving, the homeless issue.

Are there other possible explanations for the seemingly endless homeless crisis in California?

Yes. For example, here are a couple of important things to consider.

First, California has one third of the homeless population in the entire USA:

“A third of the U.S.'s entire homeless population and half of all unsheltered homeless people live in California – as the state grapples with a very visible crisis, according to estimates released at the end of 2022.”

In addition, this KPBS video points out that San Diego is the fourth most expensive housing market in the USA.

It sounds like you are not convinced that “mental illness and drugs” are the primary drivers of homelessness.

I am not. I don’t think it is a coincidence that California has some of the most expensive housing in the country, AND a huge portion of the nation’s homeless population. 

Obviously, some homeless individuals struggle with drugs and other addictions. But our culture has a long history of confusing cause and effect. Housing is insanely expensive, and many of the well-paying jobs are long gone. This is a formula for desperation, and we know that, sometimes, “desperate people do desperate things.”

In the KPBS video above, starting at about 3:17, Lila Miller explains why she has to leave San Diego:

“...Miller says if she didn't move back to Arkansas she’d likely end up homeless.”

She goes on to say:

“I do hope to come back to California. I really do love it here. It's just it's too expensive, like I'm -- I'm working so hard like I work 12 to 16 hours a day sometimes and I still can't afford to live here even with a roommate in a two-bedroom apartment.”

"I still can't afford to live here"

Watch the video again, and notice Lila Miller as she describes her plight. Note that she could easily become homeless if not for her ability to move back to Arkansas with family.

Now ask yourself two questions:

  1. Does Lila Miller appear to be “mentally ill” or a hard-core drug user?
  2. Do you really believe that her story is all that unusual?

What do you think?

Homelessness, politicians, and taxes. It’s a pretty powerful combination. Feel free to share your thoughts about this difficult situation in the comments.

I hope you enjoyed this article. It is not exactly a cheerful topic, but it is an important one. Feel free to like and share it with your friends if you wish. And of course, be sure to follow me if you would like to see more content like this.

Thanks for reading!

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 0

Published by

I'm a writer specializing in affordable housing, alternative housing, and innovative housing solutions. Follow me for the latest news on these important topics.

California State

More from Beth Torres

Comments / 0