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Homeless decreasing in Hillcrest, but city needs to increase aid

Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) has taken solid steps to address the symptoms of homelessness. 
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In the last year, we’ve all seen significant changes in the number of homeless people throughout San Diego, including Hillcrest.  

Following up on complaints by our members, six weeks ago Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) engaged proactive security patrols through a private security company.  '

Though these steps have made a significant difference in our community, they cannot fully address the larger issue of homelessness in our City.  Broader efforts by City and County leadership are essential to overcoming homelessness.

Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) has taken solid steps to address the symptoms of homelessness. 

Our new security program addresses and provides proactive engagement to prevent anti-social and often illegal behaviors by homeless. 

Our program offers foot patrols, car patrols and on-call security services which have yielded an avalanche of praise from our businesses members, and in the first weeks of the program we have seen a 6% percent drop in crime related reports by our security personnel.  =

Other examples of our six week program have included apprehension of a homeless individual who had snatched a purse from a woman who had been shopping, providing the proper outreach connection for a homeless addict who is now clean and sober and has found employment, and in conjunction with a determined HBA board member, one of our security personnel notified police of Hillcrest’s principal source of the street drug, Spice and that dealer was arrested.       

The HBA doesn’t see private security as the long-term solution to homelessness. 

We need citywide solutions. We advocate for the creation of citywide outreach teams, based on the pilot program funded by the City and HBA in 2015. 

The City and County should fund teams of experts that approach homeless people in any neighborhood that have the skills and contacts to assist in providing connections to for homeless programs. 

These teams would work in concert with existing security programs in Downtown, Ocean Beach and Hillcrest, among other communities. 

We also seek strong leadership from our elected officials to implement the City of San Diego’s housing first programs, Mayor Faulconer’s Housing our Heroes initiative, the San Diego County’s Project One for All program, rapid re-housing and the creation of a low-barrier central intake center.

The time is now to unite as a community to reduce homelessness in San Diego.  Local community groups are doing their part and we need the City and County to step forward and work to provide the programs that will truly engage and solve this problem. 

Benjamin Nicholls is Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association.