The Regional Task Force on Homelessness (RTFH) recently hosted a two-day conference of local, state and national experts with the goal of improving our collective understanding and approach to the No. 1 issue facing the San Diego region and many others: homelessness. The event was held on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the San Diego Convention Center and was attended by more than 700 people, representing more than 160 organizations, (all of whom you can still network with through the Whova app!), highlighting the deep need for our community to come together to seek solutions for San Diego.
With keynote addresses by national leaders and data experts, panels featuring San Diegans with lived experience, RTFH and CoC board members, elected officials and frontline staff members, RTFH was honored to put together a rich conference that increased collaboration, knowledge sharing, and left many participants feeling reinvigorated. In fact here are a few reviews from attendees after we wrapped up our two-day event.
- “It was an absolutely OUTSTANDING conference and was something that we all needed. Though this work can be difficult, the conference proved that the camaraderie among us is very real.”
- “I was impressed that as many quality speakers were there and available to interact with. It was great to have so many professionals in one space!”
- “I showed up this morning to the most amazing conference. Bravo. It was PACKED and so well run. You should be very proud.”
- “Congratulations to you and your staff on a truly outstanding conference. The content was rich, but equally impressive was the sense of community among the attendees. Everyone I met was so eager to engage in conversation. A convening like this in San Diego was long overdue.”
Keep reading for a recap of the events that made the first ever #Solutions4SD conference one to remember.
Powerful Lineup of Speakers
RTFH was honored to welcome an all-star cast of national experts, policy leaders, frontline service providers, and elected officials. Here are a few of the folks who headlined our event:
- Ann Oliva: CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness
- Amanda Misiko Andere: CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness
- Iain De Jong: President & CEO, OrgCode Consulting, Inc.
- Gregg Colburn: Co-Author, “Homelessness is a Housing Problem”
- Donald Whitehead: Executive Director, National Coalition for the Homeless
- Helene Schneider: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)
- Keith Harris: VA Homeless Program, National Director and Senior Ex. Homeless Agent LA
- Dr. Sam Tsemberis: Founder & CEO, Pathways Housing First Institute
- Ed Boyte: The Listening Group Founder and National Expert on Diversion
- Darlene Mathews & Michele S Williams: Principles of Equity in Action, Nationally Recognized Racial Equity Experts
Finally, 28% of our 50 local speakers or presenters were individuals with lived experience, ensuring those voices were embedded throughout our two-day event.
Over the two-day conference, RTFH was honored to host two unique keynote addresses. The first, from “Homelessness is a Housing Problem” co-author Gregg Colburn, took a deep dive into data explaining why some communities see high rates of homelessness and other communities that do not. According to Colburn, high housing costs, a low vacancy rate, and rising rents, are responsible for high rates of homelessness. You can watch his entire presentation here.
Day two’s keynote address featured an informative conversation between Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Amanda Misiko Andere, CEO of Funders Together to End Homelessness. Giving conference attendees an inside look at their text messages, these two national experts talked about where they see hope when it comes to homelessness, potential problem spots, and of course Beyoncé. You can watch their keynote conversation here.
Policy Leaders and Elected Officials
Day 2 of our conference kicked off with an in-depth discussion with state leaders, led by Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Lourdes Castro Ramírez. This panel featured some of the brightest minds on homelessness talking about root causes, hopeful outcomes and thinking outside the box. Additional panelists included
- Corrin Buchanan: California Health and Human Services Agency, Deputy Secretary for Policy and Strategic Planning
- Joe Colletti: Hub for Urban Initiatives, CEO
- Chris Martin: Housing California, Policy Director
- Helene Schneider: U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Regional Coordinator
- Jevon Wilkes: California Coalition for Youth, Executive Director
- Alex Visotzky: National Alliance to End Homelessness, Senior California Policy Fellow
We were also honored to have a number of local elected officials take part in our conference. Whether they were taking part in our opening ceremony, moderating a panel or introducing a keynote speaker, every one of the office holders who joined our conference made our conference more impactful. Those elected officials included
- Councilmember Joe LaCava, San Diego City Council District 1
- Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, San Diego City Council District 3
- Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, San Diego City Council District 5
- Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, San Diego City Council District 9
- San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria
- Vice Chair Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 1
- Supervisor Terra Lawson Remer, Board of Supervisors District 3
- Chair Nathan Fletcher, Board of Supervisors District 4
- Assemblymember Chris Ward, Assembly District 76
- Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvat, Assembly District 77
Thank you to all of our elected officials for your time and insight during our two-day event!
With sessions built around RTFH’s recently released Regional Community Action Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in San Diego, the six tracks were specifically designed to focus on some of our regions most vulnerable populations: veterans, seniors, transitional aged youth, unsheltered San Diegans, families, black San Diegans, as well as a macro-level system change series. Thanks to local policy experts, frontline workers, San Diegans with lived experience, national leaders, elected officials and RTFH staff, these focused conversations were a critical part of our conference’s success. To see the powerpoints from every breakout session, click here.
Musical Acts and Award Winners
The 2022 Conference on Homelessness wasn’t all about learning and collaborating. The final sessions each day were designed to celebrate the frontline workers who make the lives of San Diegans experiencing homelessness better every day. It was also about highlighting the triumphs of those who had formerly experienced homelessness, like the Franklin family and Doug Jack. From sleeping on the steps of the Convention Center to performing their song “It Don’t Stop”, the Franklins prove every day just how wrong the stereotypes around those who have experienced homelessness are. The same goes with Doug Jack, an Emmy winning choreographer who experienced homelessness and has gone through hell to land back on his feet. You can see their session here.
The closing ceremony of the 2022 Conference on Homelessness continued to put the spotlight on those doing the work through a special awards ceremony that became the highlight of the two-day event for many attendees.
With over 75 nominations, selecting a winner for each of the six categories was one of the most difficult parts of putting together the conference, but we were honored to ensure we recognized the excellent work that’s done every day by San Diegans across the region. These six individuals are emblematic of the quiet but impactful work of frontline staff, service providers, and lived experience advocates. We would not be where we are as a region without what they and hundreds of others do every day.
Sponsors and Board Members
The 2022 RTFH Conference on Homelessness would not have been possible without two key groups – sponsors and board members. We were overwhelmed by the support from organizations across San Diego, with 38 groups stepping up to provide vital funding that made a marked difference. From the generosity of our title sponsor Blue Shield California Promise Health Plan all the way to our sustainer class, we were overwhelmed by how many organizations were willing to provide these funds. We are eternally grateful.
Additionally the support of the RTFH and CoC board members was a key component of our success. Your support, constructive feedback and understanding of the importance of the conference focused on the regional plan was vital to what happened on November 30th and December 1st. We look forward to you leaning in again over the coming months as we plan to implement the Regional plan and for next year’s conference.
We at RTFH want to thank every single person who made this conference a success. The speakers, the participants, the sponsors – we would not have been able to do this without you. What began as a vision from our CEO Tamera Kohler as a few words written on a whiteboard plan ended with a two-day sold out conference drawing over 700 attendees and an all-star lineup of speakers. We heard everyone who attended left feeling deeply connected, supported, energized, refreshed and inspired. Renewed to do the vital work this community depends on. Together, we are making a difference, working toward a time when homelessness is a rare and brief occurrence, not a permanent life-changing situation. We’ll see you in 2023!