Homelessness in North County

Homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing San Diego and all of California as we enter 2024.  Tracking the homeless population is not an easy task.   Each year, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a “point in time count” (PIT Count) of the homeless population across the United States in order to evaluate the effectiveness of local agencies efforts to address the burgeoning problem. In 2024, that count took place on January 25.  The results of this year’s PIT Count will not be available for a few months as all the data is entered and assimilated. Carlsbad has seen some positive trends in past few years’ PIT Count.  In 2019 161 individuals were counted (59 sheltered, 102 unsheltered).  Last year, those numbers were down to 103 (43 sheltered, 60 unsheltered). However, these numbers are not reflective of the broader issue. The PIT Count can only gauge a fraction of the overall number of people experiencing homelessness.  In the past, there have been claims that the true number of homeless is substantially larger than the PIT Count numbers.  And any given year factors can affect the results of the count. Some factors include, how many resources are deployed to conduct the count in a given community? What was the weather the night preceding the count? In 2023 for instance, it was a particularly cold night in San Diego (37 degrees).  That factor alone could have altered the unsheltered population. 

The City of Carlsbad has established a 5-year strategic plan to address homelessness in Carlsbad. 

The plan has four strategies: 

(1) Expand the city’s capacity to prevent and reduce homelessness; 

(2) Coordinate, collaborate and support local efforts and organizations working to address homelessness in Carlsbad; 

(3) Retain, protect and increase the supply of housing and other affordable living options in Carlsbad; 

(4) Be active in external policy issues.

Last year Carlsbad put some action behind this plan as it approved Catholic Charity’s expansion of La Posada de Guadalupe homeless shelter. La Posada is the city’s only homeless shelter. La Posada was founded in 1992 to shelter migrant farmworkers.  

Currently La Posada has 50 beds and is for men only. The $2 million grant that was approved came through the County of San Diego and will allow them to build a second floor with 30-50 additional beds for women and children. 

There are many agencies doing good work in this space here in North County.  Some of them include Operation Hope, Community Resource Center, Interfaith Community Services and more. 

Another service provider who is doing some great work is Solutions for Change.  Solutions for Change focuses specifically on family homelessness. Their mission is to address the root causes that land families in these difficult situations. Last year, Solutions celebrated 20 years of ministry and has helped transform the lives of 1,300 families, including 2,800 children. One of the most impressive statistics at Solutions for Change is their ability to reunite children, who have been removed from the home by Social Services and placed in Foster Care, with their parents. To date Solutions boasts a 100% reunification rate. Solutions for Change relies entirely on corporate and private donors to fund their operations due to their accountability model that requires those in their program to be alcohol/drug free.  While this accountability model is part of their secret sauce at Solutions, it has precluded them from receiving any government funding since 2016 as the government requires those receiving public dollars to accept active drug users into their programs (a policy known as Housing First). 

Despite these challenges, Solutions for Change continues to battle the cyclical churn that lands so many into homelessness.  In 2023 Solutions for Change was named the CBAD Awards People’s Choice Winner.  Congratulations to Solutions for Change. Thank you for your ministry.