HOME Program

Homelessness in La Mesa

The 2020 Point-in-Time Count indicated that La Mesa had 52 un-sheltered individuals.  This number represents approximately 9% of the total homeless population in East San Diego County.  The City uses a multi-pronged approach to homelessness to ensure the rights and dignity of those experiencing homelessness as well as the safety and comfort of residents and business owners are met. Because homelessness transcends jurisdictional borders, the City works with local nonprofits and regional organizations in an ongoing effort to implement solutions and programs. 

HOME Program – Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement

HOME logoThe City of La Mesa launched the Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (“HOME”) Program to better connect those experiencing homelessness with existing County services. Modeled after the successful CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon, the HOME Program is structured so that trained specialists, including a full-time outreach worker and mental health clinician, are dispatched to respond to non-emergency calls for service related to homelessness that come into the La Mesa Police Department. As appropriate and safe, the HOME team will work directly with those experiencing homelessness and offer them an array of services and housing opportunities. 

This innovative approach to addressing homelessness in our community connects a vulnerable population with trained professionals who utilize de-escalation and trauma intervention techniques to help solve non-emergency issues. This restructuring of the La Mesa Police Department’s response to non-emergency calls for homeless services allows for the reallocation of sworn officers and PD resources to other aspects of public safety, such as community policing, DUI enforcement, and criminal investigation.

Contact HOME

If you or someone you know are experiencing homelessness there are multiple ways to reach the HOME program. You can call our HOME Hotline at 619-667-1475 or send us an email at home@cityoflamesa.us.  Our team checks voicemails and emails during regular business hours and will go out to the location described in your message to provide assistance.  If you require more urgent assistance for a non-life threatening issue involving the homeless, you can also call the La Mesa Police Department’s 24 hour non-emergency dispatch line at 619-667-1400.  For emergencies related to imminent harm, including medical or psychiatric emergencies, please call 9-1-1.

Homelessness at a glance

Homelessness is not a crime and the law does not prevent individuals from sitting, laying or sleeping in public if no existing shelter bed is available. In Martin v. City of Boise (9th Circle 2018) 902 F.3d 1031, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment precludes the enforcement of a statute or ordinance prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to a shelter. The Court ruled, "So long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in (a jurisdiction) than the number of available beds (in shelters), the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public."

Click here to read an overview of the impacts of the Martin v. Boise decision in the Los Angeles Times. 

Additional Resources