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5-year plan approved to address homeless problem in San Luis Obispo County

Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 02:40:29-04

A 5-year plan to address the growing homelessness problem in San Luis Obispo County was approved this week by the board of supervisors.

The plan aims to focus on sheltering, capacity, prevention and data in the first year. Years two and three will focus on service capacity and regional compact. The final two years of the project will focus on housing capacity and data-driven refinements.

District 3 supervisor, Dawn Ortiz Legg, says this strategic plan is different from previous efforts to address the homelessness crisis because they are creating centralized governance and will also have a citizens committee oversight commission tracking the progress of the project.

"We are creating a new division that will just be solely focused on the homeless situation," said Dawn Ortiz-Legg, District 3 County Supervisor.

That new division will consist of combined staff from the Department of Social Services, the Planning and Building Department with nine additional staff members, with a goal of allowing everyone involved to be housed in one place creating a more centralized governance.

"One of the things that's really important is that in order to solve these problems we have to have a workforce to do that," said Ortiz-Legg.

Visitors from other parts of California said they have noticed people experiencing homelessness along the highway and bathing in the public showers at the beach.

"They like, they're people you know? ...and they need homes and stuff like that to survive," said visitor Edgar Santana.

"I seen one guy, taking a shower and a lady was washing up inside the bathrooms and I gave her a few bucks, but it's really bad," said visitor Anita Orange.

People agree more needs to be done to help those experiencing homelessness, regardless of their situation.

"Well a plan is great, but actually taking action is different. So I think they should step it up and help out the homeless, I really do," said Orange.

The county’s plan requires resources, and Tuesday's approval gives the county the necessary resources to put the plan into action.

A proposal is also in the works to create a tiny home village on Kansas Avenue, on land the county already owns next to the safe parking lot.

In order for that to become a reality, two things need to be done. The first is the ability to install a housing complex of tiny homes with a community center in the middle. The second is finding someone to run it.

"So there would be two different entities typically one would build it and the other would run it, could be an entity that does both," said Ortiz-Legg.

The county has ambitious goals for the development of the tiny homes on Kansas Avenue which will be the first of many shelter expansion locations.

"We're talking first quarter of 2023," said Ortiz-Legg.

...but Ortiz-Legg said the effort will not stop there.

"That's just one aspect. That's just one village. We need to replicate that about ten times," said Ortiz-Legg.

Ortiz-Legg said in addition to replicating the additional housing units they also need to expand services available to those experiencing homelessness, though these are ambitious goals they are committed to the effort.