Survey helps advocates provide housing to downtown homeless - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Survey helps advocates provide housing to downtown homeless

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - More than 100 of downtown San Diego's most vulnerable homeless identified in a survey last year have been provided with housing, and homeless advocates said Monday they are preparing to give the same assistance to another 125.

In September 2010, volunteers counted more than 1,000 people living on the streets downtown and got 737 to participate in the survey. Of those, more than 300 were determined to need services the most because of health problems, length of time without a home or other issues.

"Many were at risk of dying on the streets," Mayor Jerry Sanders told reporters.

More than three-quarters of the homeless had mental health or substance abuse issues, and 30 percent faced both, according to the survey results.

The San Diego Housing Commission has given 101 people vouchers to obtain private housing, including 75 veterans, said commission CEO Rick Gentry. Another 23 are receiving other services.

Jennifer LeSar, a consultant who specializes in homeless issues, said work is under way to obtain funding to help another 125 to receive housing vouchers.

She said officials plan a new survey in January to "freshen up the list" of the transitory homeless population before selecting the most vulnerable.

In a couple of years, several housing complexes will be completed in which about 300-400 units will be set aside for the homeless, she said.

The vouchers are paid for by the federal government, but officials at the news conference said private donations -- like a just-announced $20,000 gift from Wells Fargo -- are welcomed.

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