More than 200 once-homeless veterans and their families have moved off San Diego's streets since the Housing Our Heroes program was adopted four months ago, the mayor's office announced Wednesday.
The $12.5 million program, funded with a mix of federal and local monies, provides incentives to landlords who rent to homeless veterans. The program has benefited 18 families encompassing 34 children, according to the mayor's office.
More than 130 others have qualified for the housing program and are in the process of finding a rental apartment or house. It typically takes one to four weeks to find housing once an individual qualifies.
"Breaking the cycle of homelessness isn't easy, but the fact that we've helped hundreds of homeless veterans find housing after just starting the program in March shows that this new approach is working," Faulconer said.
"We're asking more homeless veterans to come forward so we can enroll them, get a permanent roof over their heads and connect them with supportive services to turn their lives around," he said.
Faulconer and other city leaders spoke at a news conference as volunteers set up for the annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, which begins Friday at 6 a.m. at San Diego High School and continues through the weekend.
Participants can receive a variety of services like medical checkups, new clothing, job counseling and housing assistance.
"This is a great opportunity for our struggling heroes to get the help that they need," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at a news conference.
The mayor's office said 130 landlords are taking part in Housing Our Heroes, which assists with security deposits and utility bills; creates a contingency fund to help landlords cover expenses like move-out repairs; provides 300 federal rental assistance vouchers; and makes mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, job training skills and health services available.
"As city leaders, we owe it to our veterans to do everything in our power to ensure that the brave women and men that served to protect our freedom have access to housing and supportive services," Councilman Todd Gloria said.
"I am proud of the progress we have made to date in housing over 200 veterans, but our job will not be done until no veteran is forced to live on the streets," said Gloria, who chairs the Regional Continuum of Care Council, a coalition of agencies serving the homeless.
"I call on San Diego's landlords to please help with this effort as I concurrently commit to doing all I can to end veteran homelessness in San Diego," he said.