By Kerry Jackson & Wayne Winegarden
Last month, San Diego officials announced that the county and city will be receiving nearly $12 million in state Project Homekey funds to build housing for the homeless. It’s a publicly funded program that will, no doubt, be celebrated in the halls of government as a great step forward. For all its promise, though, Project Homekey is an expensive and ineffective program for addressing San Diego’s homeless crisis.
The Homekey funds are to be used to build 41 new housing units and provide necessary support services, for the chronically homeless. Called PATH Villas El Cerrito, the project will be, says the Times of San Diego, a “partnership between PATH Ventures, Family Health Centers of San Diego and Bold Communities.” Adding in $11 million in county funding to support the project, the PATH Villas project would come in at a cost of over $560,000 per housing unit.
While private sector participation is important, public-private partnerships are too often hampered by politics and bureaucracy that lessen their effectiveness. In this case, the partnership must pursue the state’s preferred “housing first” policy even though this approach is not resolving California’s homeless crisis.