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Questions on Homelessness

Why does it seem like there are increased homeless people in Oceanside?

Homelessness is a multi-faceted issue with many contributing factors, including economic hardship, high housing costs, lack of job skills training, mental illness, substance use disorders, physical disabilities, limited support networks for criminal offenders exiting the system, coupled with reduced policing authority due to court cases.

The societal challenge of homelessness has been exacerbated in recent years due to the 9th Circuit’s landmark 2019 “Boise Decision,” which limits the authority of police officers to issue criminal citations to individuals sleeping in public, absent available shelter beds. The Boise decision has substantially impaired the City’s ability to use certain local ordinances to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.  

Additionally, the City of Oceanside has many social services agencies serving homeless individuals, a major transportation hub,and several rivers, creeks, and open spaces which are attractions.

As part of a multi-pronged response, the City plans to open a transitional homeless shelter with wrap-around day services to obtain stability and transition people into permanent housing.  Staff is collecting proposals now (March 2021), and anticipates the selection of a shelter operator in May 2021. 

Can't Police do anything about it?

The 9th Circuit’s landmark 2019 “Boise Decision” has limited the Police Department’s ability to enforce the Code prohibition against camping on public property without available shelter beds.  Additionally, due to COVID-19, many felony offenders, including people suspected of possessing and selling illegal narcotics and suspected of committing felony property crimes, cannot be booked into jail.  Instead, these individuals receive a notice to appear in court.  Further complicating matters has been the impacts of COVID-19 on ability of the courts to hold hearings and trials.  Consequently, there is a significant backlog of cases awaiting the judicial process.

Regardless of these challenges, any illegal behavior should still be reported to the Police Department.  Officers will fulfill their role in holding people accountable for suspected criminal activity, to the extent they are able to do so.  For emergency situations, please call 911.  For non-emergency situations, please contact OPD's non-emergency line at (760) 435-4900.

What can be done to help people who are about to become homeless?

Homelessness prevention is among the City's strategies.  With the addition of Measure X funding, the City has been able to make more progress by developing a homeless diversion/prevention program and a family reunification program, among other efforts. People needing assistance can call the Oceanside Housing Division at (760) 435-3360.

What else is the City doing about homelessness?

The City is using multiple approaches and partnerships to serve those experiencing homelessness in the community and works toward alleviating the effects of homelessness:

  • Oceanside provides a Reunification Program to help people reconnect with family.
  • Oceanside sets aside housing vouchers for seniors, veterans, families, and people with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness.
  • Oceanside recently opened a Sobering Services Center, a place that Oceanside Police can take people who need to detox/sober up and offers them a warm, safe place to sleep and get the resources they need.
  • Oceanside oversees affordable housing projects.
  • Oceanside employs Bridge Housing to shelter people with a plan to move towards permanent housing. In 2020, the City moved 62 homeless residents into Bridge Housing, with 43 moving into permanent housing.
  • Oceanside serves the homeless population at the City's Community Resource Centers and Libraries with food, social service aid, computer assistance or job referral help.
  • Oceanside is opening a transitional homeless shelter with wrap-around day services to obtain stability and transition people into permanent housing.  Staff is collecting proposals now (March 2021), and anticipates the selection of a shelter operator in May 2021. 
  • Oceanside is in the process of updating its Oversize Vehicle Parking Ordinance. 
  • The City’s encampment team is identifying, posting notices, and removing illegal camps four days a week. The Oceanside Police Department issues trespassing citations, when applicable, as a deterrent to prevent unlawful camping.
  • The County of San Diego also employs Homeless Outreach Workers in Oceanside and other North County locations. Details
  • Oceanside oversees the local "Point-in-Time Count" (PIT). The PIT is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January.  The count helps determine what is needed and helps policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness. The Point-in-Time Count in Oceanside in 2019 was 483 people; in 2020 was 408 people; and 2021 was cancelled due to COVID. 

What about health care for homeless individuals?

Vista Community Clinic (VCC) has three locations in Oceanside: 818 Pier View Way, 517 N. Horne St., and 4700 N. River Rd.  VCC is committed to serving all, including those uninsured, low-income and medically under-served. The central phone number for all three locations is (844) 308-5003.

TruCare, formerly known as North County Health Services, has three locations in Oceanside. These locations are 2210 Mesa Dr., 605 Crouch St., and  3220 Mission Ave. TruCare is committed to serving low-income, uninsured and under insured. The central phone number for all TruCare locations is (760) 736-6767.

Is there any central location where people can access various services?

Yes. 211 is a resource and information hub that connects people with community, health and disaster services through a free, 24/7 confidential phone service (dial 2-1-1) and searchable online database. 2-1-1 serves the entire County. There are several organizations that provide services in Oceanside including North County Lifeline (760-757-0118) and Interfaith Community Services (760-721-2117).

How can I help?

Thousands of cities across the U.S. are grappling with the complexities of this societal issue, and it can not be solved by cities alone.  We invite you to become involved.