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UC San Diego opening large-scale research hub on homelessness

The new Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego is intended to research homelessness and identify ways to address it.
The new Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego is intended to research the factors that lead to homelessness and identify ways to address them.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

UC San Diego is opening a data hub focused exclusively on homelessness, intended to serve as a non-partisan center for research, education, policy and action.

The Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego will be under the umbrella of the La Jolla university’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Philanthropist couples Phyllis and Dan Epstein and Hanna and Mark Gleiberman donated $1 million each to the university to establish the hub.

“Phyllis, Dan, Hanna and Mark share a common conviction that society’s biggest challenges require focused efforts and resources to solve,” UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in a statement. “The Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego has the potential to make a significant impact in understanding and addressing the factors that lead to homelessness.”

Last year, the Regional Task Force on Homelessness estimated that the number of first-time homeless people in San Diego County grew from 2,326 in 2019 to 4,152 in 2020, a 79 percent increase.

“Homelessness has remained a long-term problem in San Diego, and we should turn to the best researchers we have to identify thoughtful solutions,” Dan Epstein said. “The University of California will play a constructive role in that regard.”

“This is about getting people not only a place to live but everything that goes along with it,” he added. “UC San Diego can identify what people need and how best to offer services, and then the real work begins.”

The Homelessness Hub is intended to tackle the issue by “bringing together and drawing upon the wisdom of researchers, service providers, civic leaders and unhoused San Diegans to conduct critical research, synthesize and communicate findings, as well as inform local policy and action to address homelessness,” according to a statement from the university.

“Imagine, for example, if we could optimize San Diego’s winter shelter network,” said Mirle Rabinowitz Bussell, a UCSD professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “Where should we locate shelters? What services should be offered? For how long? For how many people? How can we link safe overnight parking to help prevent homelessness in the first place?

“Now, through the Homelessness Hub at UC San Diego, we have the opportunity to collaborate with nonprofit leaders and elected officials to make decisions that move us toward the goal of eliminating homelessness.”

For more information, visit hhubsandiego-ucsdonline.hub.arcgis.com.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.


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