Nicole Blumenfeld, Senior Data Analyst at 2-1-1 San Diego,
sharing critical insights on regional housing instability, Sept. 12, 2019

Jessica Ripper, Senior Associate

More than one-quarter of people facing housing instability who reached out for assistance became homeless within four months according to Housing Instability in San Diego County, a policy brief recently released by 2-1-1 San Diego. The brief highlights how data gathered by the 2-1-1 San Diego/Community Information Exchange can be aggregated to examine the extent to which households are experiencing housing instability and the key factors that differentiate households that become homeless from those that remain housed.

The policy brief provides critical insights into local needs and aims to foster data-driven policy discussions about how to target homelessness prevention resources to the households that need them most. Specifically, the findings show that 85% of callers reported needing housing assistance within three months, including nearly 30% who needed help within three days. The data indicate that several demographic characteristics—unemployment, no education beyond high school/GED, and identification as African American—may increase the likelihood of a household becoming homeless. Conversely, households that received a referral to a prevention or payment assistance program were more likely to remain housed than those who did not.

Collectively, these findings indicate that the region needs to expand its capacity to deliver targeted homelessness prevention services. Recommendations include increasing the funding for and availability of prevention services, supporting the early identification of households most likely to need assistance, and increasing community awareness of 2-1-1 San Diego as a place to quickly access referrals and services. Other potential strategies include enhancing utility assistance programs and creating employment opportunities that support housing stability through partnerships with the workforce development system.

The policy brief was released at a forum sponsored by Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego and highlighted several local prevention programs. The San Diego Housing Commission shared outcomes from its Moving to Work prevention program, which served more than 400 eligible households by providing an average $2,400 per household. Households remained in the program approximately two months and have achieved a 90% stability rate. The Salvation Army and several partners, including 2-1-1 San Diego, were recently awarded Homeless Emergency Assistance Program funding to provide an evidence-informed prevention program, which uses a common screening tool and shared processes. The SDSU School of Public Health will conduct an evaluation of the program.

The policy brief reflects 2-1-1 San Diego’s commitment to proactively using aggregated data from across the service delivery system to identify community needs, track population trends, inform local planning, and shape policy to improve the health and well-being of all San Diegans.