The Task Force Times

May/June 2020 Edition

CEO Corner
One of my deepest hopes in these unprecedented times is that you are all well and staying safe. 35 years ago I lost a younger brother to a contagious disease. He was 2 ½ and most likely contracted spinal meningitis from a visit to the grocery store with my mom. It was a devastating loss to our family, but even more saddening was a vaccine would come out months later in the fall of 1985. I will never forget the loss and it has fueled my determination to do all we can to protect those experiencing homelessness from contracting COVID-19. Along with so many others, RTFH has dedicated significant time, talent and resources to supporting San Diego region during this pandemic. We remain strong and focused as we continue to provide strategic planning, guidance and the most up-to-date information to our communities, following the Public Health guidance by way of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect to those experiencing homelessness.

In partnership with the City of San Diego and San Diego county, we built on CDC and HUD guidance in the planning process to set up a system response to a public health pandemic that included existing shelters, hotel/motels, and the Convention Center. The expansion of shelter capacity at the Convention Center is in full motion and is one of the largest system pieces we have helped lead to ensure social distancing in our shelters and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Existing shelter locations such as Father Joe Villages PMC and PATH continue to provide safety and security to older San Diegans as well as those with chronic health conditions that might be vulnerable to the challenges of COVID-19. Through a partnership with San Diego County, a limited number of hotel rooms are also part of the system response for those at high risk or who needed social distancing away from shelters. Our neighbors in hotel rooms are supported by community partners such as Interfaith Community Services in North County, Downtown San Diego Partnership, NAMI, The Salvation Army and Alpha Project. South Bay Community Services also secured hotel rooms to support needs in the south area. Our work with hotel rooms continues to be centered around a COVID-19 response to mitigate and prevent the spread of this disease.

The Convention Center has been set up as a FEMA disaster response that follows an incident command approach. The success of the Convention Center shelter model is due to courageous leadership at the State, San Diego City, County, RTFH, San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) and the Convention Center. We are inspired by the partnerships of amazing service providers: Father Joe’s Village, VVSD, and Alpha Project; Convention Center staff, city staff from all departments including the library, parks and recreation (even lifeguards); and County staff from public health nurses to behavioral health providers onsite. Equally important are the exit strategies and the numerous partners and property managers who are working quickly to house these individuals. The VA has been an important partner in this work through VASH.

Other key highlights from RTFH include adding verbal consent for client release of information during this emergency protocol, a critical component for client records in the HMIS, and documenting use of hotel rooms for FEMA reimbursements. Our HMIS & Coordinated Entry teams continue to provide the necessary support to service providers; they conduct online training for new service provider staff; and continue to ensure we are compliant and up-to-date on all data elements for funding.
We have provided the SDHC with data to support effective client exit strategies, and have also supported the County with data elements around how many people are unsheltered, where they are congregating and shelter capacities throughout the region.  Data has driven RTFH outreach efforts to deliver hygiene kits, meals and water to unsheltered San Diegans.
It is also good to note that Federal deadlines have been extended for almost all of the Federal reports to help in accommodating during these times, and RTFH has applied for multiple HUD waivers to reduce barriers and excel the process of moving people to housing.

As we learn more every day, we will continue to move forward with great intention to protect the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness while continuing to strive towards ending homelessness in San Diego. Be safe. Be well.


Tamera Kohler
Chief Executive Officer
Operation Shelter to Home: A Regional Approach to Helping our Homeless Neighbors

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless in partnership with our region’s cities, the County of San Diego, San Diego Housing Commission and our homeless service providers have developed a new, system-wide, coordinated plan to further help sheltered and unsheltered individuals remain healthy during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dubbed “Operation Shelter to Home,” the temporary repurposing of Golden Hall and the San Diego Convention Center in the City of San Diego as shelters will support a broader regional approach to address homelessness during this state of emergency.

Phased Move-In

Individuals are being moved into Golden Hall and the Convention Center in a phased approach to ensure needs and resources are scaled appropriately. Once physical distancing requirements have been met for current shelter residents, capacity will be assessed to intake unsheltered San Diegans. When beds become available for unsheltered San Diegans, the Regional Task Force and our partners will provide information and clear direction to service providers and outreach teams on how to access shelter beds.  

On-Site Services

Golden Hall and the Convention Center will offer services similar to other shelters, including 24-hour security, meals, showers, bathrooms, laundry services, case managers and housing navigation. The County of San Diego will provide mental and behavioral health services, healthcare and daily health screenings. The Convention Center has installed large projectors and Wi-Fi access for clients to have entertainment and full connectivity for work, school or other needs.

Health Screening

Any individual exhibiting symptoms that is identified for isolation, , or part of a vulnerable population who is at greater risk of exposure, will continue to be placed in various hotel and motel rooms for temporary lodging per San Diego County’s guidance.

For an overview regarding Operation Shelter to Home, please visit The County of San Diego's website outlining this operation:

The RTFH New Website and Dashboards

The RTFH website has a new look! The design of the new website should have an smoother look and feel to those who need to access it. Some of the layout and highlights of the new website make it easier to navigate, and the resources will be easier to locate for those who would like to in the "document search" feature, located in the upper right-hand corner of the site that is accessible on any page you are navigating through.
Our dashboards are also updated and available at  The new dashboards are simplified versions that have numerous flexibility in filtering as well as new additional visualizations.

The new website and pages that you have previously accessed will be available using the same links. We encourage you to check the new design out at

Please direct any questions or comments you may have about the new website design to
2020 WeAllCount (PITC) Results
The 2020 count of the region’s homeless population found on any given night 7,619 homeless San Diegans live on our streets or in our shelters in San Diego County, a 6 percent reduction from the 2019 count. The Point-In-Time Count (PITC), commonly referred to as WeAllCount, marks the annual effort to engage San Diegans experiencing homelessness and inform the work of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) to reduce homelessness in the region.
San Diego’s 2020 WeAllCount efforts took place over three days, beginning at 4 a.m. on January 23 with a total of 1,782 volunteers focused on counting people experiencing homelessness, not vehicles or structures. Volunteers and outreach workers interviewed unsheltered individuals using the mobile Counting Us Application and Geographical Information System (GIS) technology. The introduction of this handheld technology this year allowed the RTFH to analyze data in real-time and distribute resources in the community. The RTFH has already begun using this data to aid in the COVID-19 response and will continue to use this data to advance regional best practices.
The available reports can be found here under "Latest PIT Documents" on our website:  

HUD Waivers

On April 1, 2020 HUD issued a memo providing regulatory waivers of certain CoC, ESG, HOPWA, and Consolidated Plan requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The waivers are applicable to organizations that receive any of the funding sources mentioned. We have added three resources to our webpage to assist in documenting your agency's utilization of the HUD waivers.  They can be found by clicking here.
                     General Membership Meeting
The next General Membership Meeting will be held on June 11th. Please note that if your organization is not up to date with your Membership payments, or if you expect to be involved in the upcoming annual Membership, you should expect to receive an email from that will provide you with the information needed to re-enroll.

CoC Members obtain and retain voting privileges through maintenance of membership in good standing. To maintain membershi+p in good standing, CoC members are required to 1) complete an application2) attend a minimum of two meetings per fiscal year and 3) pay their annual dues.  Membership adheres to a July-June calendar and all CoC members are on the same renewal schedule as of July 1, 2020 regardless of when membership is established.
In order for members to vote in the upcoming elections it is necessary to collect membership applications and annual dues. If you are receiving this email, you are not considered a current member with the ability to vote in the upcoming Board of Directors meeting for the Board membership year 2020-2021.  Each member organization in the CoC is required to designate a primary representative and also has the option to designate an additional two ‘authorized representatives’ to represent the organization.  An authorized representative must have sufficient authority to speak on behalf of the member organization. Staff members other than authorized representatives are welcome to attend meetings but to ensure continuity of participation, only the participation of authorized representatives will count toward meeting CoC membership requirements. Deadline for payment and application is on Friday, May 29th at noon.
You can fill out the online Membership form by clicking here and you will be directed to pay the fee in the same form. For additional questions, you may visit

We will need a quorum of Members to vote for the upcoming Board of Directors seats. For more information, please visit

Flexible Housing Pool

Partnering Agencies seek an organization, or organizations, that can perform a range of housing-related functions and has the demonstrated ability to collaborate with support service providers, property owners, and public agencies. This is a pioneering approach to supportive housing that: a) requires a systemic approach with collective impact to achieve scale, and b) recognizes that current sources of rental subsidies are inadequate to meet the need.

The FHP will to operate throughout San Diego County as part of a 2019 and 2020 Work Plan. The FHP is intended to cover the entire County of San Diego, including all 18 cities and the unincorporated areas.  The San Diego Regionally Centralized FHP will launch with an estimated initial pool of approximately $1.8 million in committed funding from the RTFH. Partnering Agencies are also in negotiation to secure multiple flexible funding sources to support implementation as well as long-term sustainability. Additional committed funds and resources are expected upon official launch of the FHP by the end of 2020.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for: Centralized Flexible Housing Pool Coordination and Housing Location Technology Platform responses closed on March 23rd, 2020 and was extended to March 23, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The RTFH is in the process of reviewing submissions and looking to select a vendor in the coming weeks. Please visit our website for more information. 

HMIS Highlights

The HMIS team has been quite busy during this time to provide the same level of care that they have been able to provide, and have also stepped up some of their assistance to the HMIS community during this COVID-19 crisis.

First are the items that are a result of COVID-19 across the nation’s HMIS:

  • Federal reporting deadlines were extended: the current new deadline for the HIC and PIT to be submitted is June 30th, 2020 (originally April 30, 2020).
  • New Coordinated Entry Data Standards implementation deadline within HMIS was extended to October 1, 2020 (originally April 1, 2020).
And below are the items that the HMIS team has worked on and has been guiding the community through in the past few months.
  • Launched a new combined MPA in coordination with 2-1-1 for better cross-system coordination and data sharing. 
  • Enabled verbal consent emergency protocol to support staff safety when collecting consent.
  • Added new fields to the system for collecting bed, unit, and floor numbers as well as bed ADA compliance to help inform COVID-19 response.
  • Built a local County COVID-19 screener in the HMIS that is available to all agencies.
  • Created additional HMIS programs for COVID-19 response data collection for non-congregate shelters and Convention Center efforts, supporting providers in setting up programs to transfer clients to the non-congregate shelters in HMIS.
  • Supported Imperial County with their HMIS efforts surrounding FEMA/State data collection for non-congregate shelters. This includes connecting Imperial County to the HMIS Admin information to help inform Imperial County’s non-congregate shelter data collection within HMIS.
  • Enabled FEMA/State data elements for non-congregate shelters and made service transactions available.
  • Supported SDHC with reports for exit strategies with Operation Shelter to Home, and supported SDHC, The VA, and The County to coordinate COVID-19 response.
  • As of April 1st, all staff, end users and people who are frontline staff working with clients are expected to begin using the joint HMIS & CIE consent form. Training and support is available on both RTFH’s and CIE’s website.

Last, the HMIS Team has transitioned fully to online-only training incorporating webinars, online quizzes, and remote data entry review and support for trainees at this time. If there are any questions about training, or anything else related to the HMIS, please email

COVID-19 Resourses
With the help of a donation from  the Lucky Duck Foundation the RTFH staff was able to deliver 60 cases of hand sanitizer to 34 homeless providers. Team members set out on a Friday in early April and drove to all corners of the County delivering this critical donation. 
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the RTFH staff coordinates with NAMI, Vista Hill, Home-Start, Crisis House and Downtown Clean and Safe to distribute 400 meals per day to our unsheltered neighbors. The meals consist of water, breakfast, lunch, and a snack. Thanks to a generous donation of 720 FEMA hygiene kits from Grace Church of San Diego the RTFH has begun handing them out along with the meals. 
140,000 Meals and Counting: Inside Centerplate’s Kitchens for Operation Shelter to Home

With Operation Shelter to Home engaging our community with temporary housing solutions for our homeless neighbors, we would not want to leave out the efforts that are made to feed all of the people who are staying in the Convention Center during these times. The Convention Center catering partner, Centerplate, has been busy feeding the unhoused who are sheltered there. This article is a great read:

Copyright © 2020 The Regional Task Force on the Homeless, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this because you opted for updates on the RTFH when you volunteered for the 2020 WeAllCount, or because you are a member of our Continuum of Care, or because you signed up to receive updates from RTFH.

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The Regional Task Force on the Homeless
4699 Murphy Canyon Road
San DiegoCA 92123

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