Homelessness in La Mesa
To report to assist a homeless individual, contact the HOME Program at 619.667.1475.
In February 2021, the La Mesa City Council unanimously adopted the 2021-2026 Homeless Action Plan. The Plan establishes programs designed to prevent homeless and housing insecurity, provide comprehensive outreach and mental health services, and address future transitional and permanent supportive housing needs in East San Diego County. The City will continue implementing and updating the Homeless Action Plan to provide additional programs and resources.
The 2020 Point-in-Time Count showed that La Mesa had 52 un-sheltered individuals. In 2023, the Point-in-Time Count indicated that La Mesa had 36 un-sheltered individuals. This number represents approximately 7% of the total homeless population in East San Diego County region. The City uses a multi-pronged approach to homelessness to ensure the rights and dignity of those experiencing homelessness as well as to ensure the safety and comfort of residents and business owners are met. Because homelessness transcends jurisdictional borders, the City works with local nonprofits and regional organizations in an ongoing effort to implement solutions and programs.
HOME Program – Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement
The City of La Mesa launched the Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (“HOME”) Program to better connect those experiencing homelessness with existing County services. Modeled after the successful CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon, the HOME Program is structured so that trained specialists, including a full-time outreach worker and mental health clinician, are dispatched to respond to non-emergency calls for service related to homelessness that come into the La Mesa Police Department. As appropriate and safe, the HOME team will work directly with those experiencing homelessness and offer them an array of services and housing opportunities.
This innovative approach to addressing homelessness in our community connects a vulnerable population with trained professionals who utilize de-escalation and trauma intervention techniques to help solve non-emergency issues. This restructuring of the La Mesa Police Department’s response to non-emergency calls for homeless services allows for the reallocation of sworn officers and PD resources to other aspects of public safety, such as community policing, DUI enforcement, and criminal investigation.
The Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement program is actively working to help those experiencing homelessness. Our HOME Team is here to help by providing a number of services and increasing the number of homeless residents that can be housed. To learn more about the HOME program, please view the video or check out the HOME Program Quarterly Reports.
If you or someone you know are experiencing homelessness there are multiple ways to reach the HOME program. You can call our HOME Hotline at 619.667.1475 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team checks voicemails and emails during regular business hours and will go out to the location described in your message to provide assistance. If you require more urgent assistance for a non-life threatening issue involving the homeless, you can also call the La Mesa Police Department’s 24 hour non-emergency dispatch line at 619-667-1400. For emergencies related to imminent harm, including medical or psychiatric emergencies, please call 9-1-1.
Donations to HOME Program
If you would like to contribute to the HOME Program, donations in the form of cash, check or credit card can be accepted at the La Mesa City Hall Finance Department located at 8130 Allison Avenue and at the La Mesa Police Department located at 8085 University Ave. Donations received will be used to supplement the cost of high protein, non-perishable food, clothing, and other needed supplies.
Memorandum of Understanding for Homelessness Services Adopted
On May 10, 2022, The City Council adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a foundation for a working partnership between the County of San Diego and East County Cities to develop a regional network of housing options that benefits all parties. The MOU creates options for the parties to collectively evaluate potential transitional and permanent supportive housing sites and discuss shared bed space opportunities.
Homelessness at a glance
Homelessness is not a crime and the law does not prevent individuals from sitting, laying or sleeping in public if no existing shelter bed is available. In Martin v. City of Boise (9th Circle 2018) 902 F.3d 1031, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment precludes the enforcement of a statute or ordinance prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to a shelter. The Court ruled, "So long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in (a jurisdiction) than the number of available beds (in shelters), the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public."
Vista Sands - 7911 University Avenue
Homeless Shelter for Transitional Aged Youth
In 2016, there was a push in regional advocacy for a more equitable distribution of resources to address the rising number of unsheltered transitional aged youth. These youth are at risk for exploitation and human trafficking. The Continuum of Care for youth advocacy was designed to promote a communitywide commitment to ending homelessness for youth aged 18-24, and prevent this vulnerable population from entering the cycle of the chronically unsheltered.
Local nonprofit service providers have partnered to meet the needs of this vulnerable youth population. San Diego Youth Services, Home Start, and Urban Street Angels entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to provide transitional housing and supportive services for transitional aged youth at Vista Sands, 7911 University Avenue. The funding was a made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program to the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness (RTFH). The nonprofits are subcontracted service providers and have agreed to work closely with the La Mesa Police Department.
NATURE OF THE TRANSITIONAL HOUSING AND RAPID REHOUSING PROGRAM
The Vista Sands location has 60 total units, with two (2) units designated for onsite staff. The program will employ a holistic approach to serving youth, including:
- Through initial intake, triage, and screening process
- Development of a case plan for each resident
- Youth Support Partners and Youth Systems Navigators will provide services throughout the community at safe locations of the youth’s choosing; all services will be available both on and off site; services including counseling, conflict resolution, skill-building, employment support and more• Providing housing stability and supportive services
- 24/7 onsite case managers, trained in de-escalation and trauma-informed care
- Strict enforcement of no illegal substances policy
- No visitors allowed and no congregating in open spaces, i.e. parking lot
- Residents will be working or are students attending SDSU, Grossmont-Cuyamca, and UCSD extension
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
The goal of this program is to create flexible and responsive housing resources to promote successful exits from homelessness and reduce the wait time for permanent housing. The program aims to support the social/emotional development and wellbeing of the youth. Services will be youth driven and collaborative, following a Housing First model and using the principles of trauma informed care, positive youth development, and cultural inclusivity.
The objective of this program is to assist youth experiencing homelessness achieve stable housing while accomplishing their educational, employment, or entrepreneurial goals by providing them with the skills, tools and resources needed to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency.
HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION
You can reach out the service providers at the numbers below:
- San Diego Youth Services: Wil Lybarger – 619.840.0711
- Urban Street Angels: Mark Bartlett – 619.510.9000
- Home Start: Geoffery Lippert – 858.744.8245
- To report to assist a homeless individual, contact the HOME Program at 619.667.1475.
- San Diego East County Resources can be found on ECAssist.org.
- Dial 2-1-1 or 858-300-1211 or view the 211 website for information, referrals, and assistance to food, shelters, and human services.
- The Citizen Task Force on Homelessness serves as an advisory to the City Council on homelessness.
- The East County Homeless Task Force promotes collaboration to discover and action housing solutions in East County.
- The Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) serves San Diego County by leading the charge to end homelessness.
- The San Diego County Continuum of Care has an assessment of homeless services in San Diego County and a list of available resources and other information.