The next step for Carlsbad’s response to homelessness


Finn Corrigan

Kenny has been homeless for 16 years, working with Interfaith Community Services to combat alcoholism and homelessness.

Homelessness has been a serious problem here in Carlsbad for years, and it hasn’t been getting better. With the growing economy, real estate prices are also on the rise. It is no secret that to afford to live in Carlsbad is difficult already, and the rising prices is making it all the more difficult for the homeless. The city of San Diego itself has the fourth highest population of homeless in the entire United States. To fix this problem, we need to cut at the root, not just the branches.

Many experts agree that while homelessness is a complex and varied issue, the majority of the people we see in our city without a home suffered the most during the World Recession of 2008, when banks failed and houses lost their value. Many people lost their homes during this time, which caused the demand for rental housing to skyrocket, thus driving up rents. The prices of houses have never stopped growing since, making the people already without a home unable to purchase any other residence.

Carlsbad has experienced problems with homeless encampments in public areas. Encampments often pose a public health and safety risk due to lack of sanitation. Homeless individuals have illegally used electrical sources to power RVs and other equipment, and left trash and debris, fecal matter and other pollutants behind for the city crews to clean up. Many petty thefts and other crimes have been linked to people who are homeless.

Our problem with Homelessness is not one that should be taken lightly, as in the past few years, the numbers have risen still. According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless annual count released in April 2017, Carlsbad has 160 people considered homeless, which includes 59 “sheltered” and 101 “unsheltered” people. While Carlsbad wants to provide the best way of life for all its residents, it may not have done enough for every single person.

Carlsbad has given multiple methods to help combat homelessness, including establishing a homeless response team that includes representatives from several city departments who share information and coordinate resources, hired dedicated homeless outreach team members to develop relationships and increased enforcement of laws that protect Carlsbad’s health, safety and quality of life. But despite all of the city’s efforts, it has not been enough to prevent the slow but steady rise of homelessness in our community.

The city does have several programs to help with affordable housing opportunities for lower income households. Carlsbad’s mandatory “inclusionary housing program” requires housing developers to provide 15 percent of their total units to low income households. Beyond this program, the city hasn’t helped much with the biggest challenge, which is to find an affordable home in a beautiful coastal city such as Carlsbad. Lack of affordable housing continues to be a concern to many residents. 

To truly help the homeless residents in our area, the options that are already in place must be made more clear. The people who are in need of these services sometimes have no idea that they have these services available to them. They must be marketed more than they are. To combat the root of homelessness in Carlsbad, it would be helpful to provide more employment opportunities and resources to fight against addictions, while continuously aiming for affordable housing. It’s time that Carlsbad keeps the future in mind– we must adapt to our growing economy and population in order to stop the current rise of homelessness.