San Diego under fire for 'fruitless' plan to house homeless in 3 hotels at nearly $400K per room

County supervisor says taxpayer dollars being wasted as liberal state fails to address root causes of homelessness

San Diego is proposing a new plan to help house the city's growing homeless population. Critics, however, have noted the strategy will cost taxpayers thousands without addressing the root cause of the crisis. 

"California's got about a third of the homeless of the entire country. And we keep just throwing more and more dollars at this problem without really getting to the root cause of mental health or alcohol abuse or drug abuse," San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said on"Fox & Friends" Friday. 

The southern California city's Housing Commission plans to purchase three Extended Stay America Suites which could house over 400 homeless individuals. The commission plans to close escrow on the three apartment-style hotels in October at a total cost of $157.8 million.

Broken down, the cost of each unit would be roughly $383,000.


Desmond, however, challenged the city's proposal for pushing another housing plan on taxpayer dollars. 

"Spending all this $157 million on more rooms doing the same thing and it's causing the same problem, that is fruitless," he said.

San Diego County has seen skyrocketing homelessness over recent years, hitting all-time highs in 2023. According to data from the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the city hit a record high in January 2023 at 1,939 homeless people. As of March, there were 1,718 homeless persons downtown, showing a slight decrease since the beginning of the year.

Recent point-in-time data from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness shows there were almost 8,500 homeless persons in San Diego County during 2022, a 10% increase from 2020. 

As the numbers have grown, California leadership has sought out several different housing strategies and outreach plans including Gov. Gavin Newsome's proposal to build 1,200 tiny homes for the state's homeless. 

California will spend about $30 million to build 1,200 small homes across the state this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in March, part of a plan to help house the nation's largest homeless population and to address an issue that has persistently plagued the state during the governor's time in office.

San Diego is said to receive 150 of the tiny homes.


"This is just another Band-Aid on a crisis that is out of control in California," said Brian Jones, the Republican leader of the state Senate. "We know that throwing money at this problem doesn’t work."

The California Democrat also reportedly asked the Biden administration to fund a "transitional rent" program that would "provide up to six months of rent or temporary housing for low income enrollees who rely on the state's health care safety net," according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Since taking office in 2019, Newsom has signed off on more than $22.3 billion in new spending on housing and homelessness programs. But critics including Desmond have noted the policies have done little to fix the underlying problem but cost the city billions.

"We just keep getting more and more homeless people on our streets. Our numbers are going up. They're not going down. In the past three years, the state of California has spent $10 billion on homeless and trying to fix the homeless problem, the homeless solution. We're just caught in this never-ending cycle," Desmond said.

According to the commission, the hotels were selected given their proximity to essentials like grocery stores and public transportation. Desmond, however, argues that the focus should be on helping mental and physical health.

"That's what people really need to get into, is treatment, not just the hotel room where they can continue to use and continue in the bad habits…that got them homeless in the first place," Desmond said. 

As part of the Housing First approach, the proposal has no mental or physical health treatments required for homeless individuals, many of whom are struggling with drug and substance abuse as well as mental health issues. 

"If there's no rules, if there's no consequences for bad behavior, we're just spinning our wheels and just throwing more and more money at a problem that we're just not going to solve until we get to those root causes of mental health and drug abuse," Desmond argued. 

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