Housing San Diego's homeless since 1984

San Diego, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 33-0623634


Our mission is to provide access to affordable housing and supportive services for individuals and families in need including those experiencing homelessness, living with HIV/AIDS, and more. For nearly 40 years, we have focused on affordable housing development and operations, non-congregate emergency housing, case management, and housing information and referral.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Melissa Peterman

Main address

2047 El Cajon Boulevard

San Diego, CA 92104 USA

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Subject area info

Housing development

Shelter and residential care

Senior assisted living

Housing services

Special population support

Population served info


Economically disadvantaged people

Homeless people

Low-income people

People with disabilities

Show more populations served

NTEE code info

Senior Continuing Care Communities (P75)

Housing Development, Construction, Management (L20)

Housing Search Assistance (L30)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Townspeople is addressing the pressing need for stable and secure housing solutions for individuals and families facing homelessness or housing insecurity in San Diego. Like many urban centers across the United States, San Diego grapples with a significant homelessness crisis exacerbated by various factors such as rising housing costs, limited affordable housing stock, mental health issues, substance abuse, and systemic inequalities. We recognize that homelessness is not just about lacking a physical shelter but also encompasses complex challenges related to healthcare access, employment opportunities, social support, and overall well-being. By providing affordable housing options and comprehensive support services, Townspeople aims to end homelessness and empower individuals to rebuild their lives with dignity and stability.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Residential Supportive Services

This program focuses on individuals/families who reside in Townspeople owned and managed properties. This program includes case management, providing residents with essentials for living including basic needs such as bed linens, blankets, cleaning supplies. We offer referrals and assistance in job training, financial education and other social services.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Homeless people

Townspeople acquires, rehabs and operates affordable housing apartment complexes in San Diego. Townspeople operates 66 affordable housing units over three complexes. Not only does our housing program provide needed affordable apartments for low-income people it is also engaged in assisting the City of San Diego in neighborhood revitalization.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Homeless people

This program is funded by US HUD and the HOPWA program. It is designed to help low income people living with HIV/AIDS avoid eviction or foreclosure.  This assistance is available for up to 21 weeks.  It must be accessed through a case manager who will guide clients on issues of eligibility screening. Townspeople disburses the funds and will track clients' progress

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Homeless people

Where we work


Best Housing Project 2011

San Diego Housing Federation

Top 40 Nonprofit Agencies 2010

San Diego Business Journal

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Percent of supportive housing residents who remain stably housed within the fiscal year.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people, Veterans, People with HIV/AIDS, People with disabilities

Related Program

Residential Supportive Services

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of people supported by Townspeople across all programs during the fiscal year.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, People with disabilities, People with HIV/AIDS, Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Townspeople's overarching goal is to effectively implement the Housing First approach. We understand that stable housing is not only a fundamental human need but also a catalyst for improving overall health and well-being. In alignment with this philosophy, Townspeople focuses on providing comprehensive support services alongside permanent housing. These services are tailored to address the diverse needs of participants, ranging from case management and mental health support to job training and substance abuse counseling. By offering a holistic approach, we aim to equip individuals with the tools and resources necessary to not only obtain housing but also to maintain it successfully over the long term.

Furthermore, Townspeople's commitment to Housing First extends beyond simply providing shelter. The organization strives to create inclusive communities where individuals feel supported and empowered to thrive independently. Through education, advocacy, and community engagement initiatives, Townspeople works to challenge stigma, promote understanding, and foster compassion for those experiencing homelessness, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and compassionate society for all.

Townspeople's mission is to finance, build, and operate affordable housing and supportive services for people with special needs, providing them with equitable opportunities to achieve stability and self-sufficiency.

Since its founding, Townspeople has remained steadfast in its commitment to following the research, which shows the solution to homelessness is Housing First. Formed by a group of compassionate San Diegans in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, our organization provides access to affordable housing and supportive services for medically vulnerable populations including people living with HIV/AIDS, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, as well as experiencing other health-related conditions.

We passionately believe having a place to call home is the foundation for health and wellness. Because of this belief, in 1994, Townspeople opened San Diego's first permanent supportive housing program for people living with HIV/AIDS. In the 30 years since, we have continued the expansion of our affordable housing and supportive service portfolio to help ensure everyone in our community can live a healthy, safe, and dignified life. Our current focuses include:
* Affordable Housing. Townspeople owns and operates four affordable housing developments in San Diego, totaling 118 homes.
* Rental Assistance. With support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, we administer rental assistance to hundreds of households annually.
* Supportive Services. Our on and off-site supportive services include case management, crisis intervention, care coordination, housing navigation, and resource connections.
* Emergency Housing. In collaboration with local hotels and motels, Townspeople operates a year-round non-congregate emergency housing program for more than 100 people living with HIV/AIDS who are also experiencing homelessness each year.
* Housing Navigation. Townspeople's navigation services assist San Diegans experiencing homelessness who are also living with HIV/AIDS in overcoming barriers to stable housing, identifying financial assistance and other resources, advocating on behalf of participants, which can include family reunification and more.
* Shared Housing. In 2023, Townspeople launched the region's first system for housemate and housing matching for people experiencing homelessness. The system provides greater access to housing options by connecting housemates to reduce housing costs and form social relationships.

Townspeople is no stranger to supporting our community in times of crisis. In the 1980s, when many people were turning their backs on the needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, Townspeople broke with the status quo and began providing them with housing. Even today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our mission to offer lifesaving services for those in need remains critical. Everyone deserves a home, and we are so grateful to community partners who share our vision of a fully housed San Diego.

With a 40-year legacy of serving San Diego's most vulnerable populations, Townspeople boasts a robust infrastructure and deep-rooted expertise in addressing the complex and diverse needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. This extensive experience has equipped Townspeople with internal capabilities to provide comprehensive services tailored to individuals with multi-layered needs while also leveraging a profound understanding of community resources to augment its offerings. Through strategic collaborations with like-minded organizations, Townspeople has cultivated cooperative relationships that enhance its ability to deliver impactful solutions. This collaborative approach, combined with Townspeople's dedicated staff and community resources, ensures its participants receive customized services that foster stability and enhance their quality of life.

Moreover, Townspeople's track record of success is underscored by its ability to secure and fulfill contracts with key stakeholders, such as the County of San Diego and the Department of Housing and Community Development, for critical programs like Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA). Additionally, Townspeople's sub-contracts with the San Diego Housing Commission for Permanent Supportive Housing and the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) further highlight its effectiveness in securing funding and delivering essential services. Furthermore, Townspeople administers various rental subsidy contracts, including Section 8 Project Based Vouchers, demonstrating its capacity to navigate complex housing assistance programs and meet the diverse needs of its clients effectively.

Townspeople has achieved significant success in its mission to provide housing and support services to vulnerable populations in San Diego. Over its 40-year history, the organization has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of the community. Some of its key successes include:

1. Providing Stable Housing: Through its Housing First approach, Townspeople has successfully housed hundreds of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, providing them with stable and permanent housing as a foundation for rebuilding their lives.

2. Comprehensive Support Services: Townspeople offers a wide range of support services tailored to its participants' diverse needs, including case management, mental health support, substance abuse counseling, job training, and access to healthcare. By addressing both housing and support needs, Townspeople helps individuals achieve long-term stability and independence.

3. Strategic Partnerships: The organization has cultivated strong partnerships with government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations. These collaborations enable Townspeople to leverage resources, share expertise, and maximize impact in addressing homelessness and housing insecurity.

4. Fulfilling Funding Contracts: Townspeople has successfully secured and fulfilled various funding contracts from government agencies, including the County of San Diego, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the San Diego Housing Commission. This funding enables Townspeople to expand its programs and reach more individuals in need.

5. Advocacy and Awareness*: Townspeople actively engages in advocacy efforts to raise awareness about homelessness, advocate for policy changes, and challenge the stigma surrounding homelessness. By educating the public and policymakers, Townspeople helps foster a more compassionate and supportive community.

Looking ahead, Townspeople continues to pursue its mission with dedication and determination. Some next steps for the organization include:

1. Expansion of Services: Townspeople is exploring opportunities to expand its housing and support services to reach more individuals and families in need, particularly in underserved communities within San Diego.

2. Innovation and Adaptation: As the landscape of homelessness and housing insecurity evolves, Townspeople will continue to innovate and adapt its programs and strategies to meet its participants' changing needs effectively.

3. Advocacy and Collaboration: The organization will continue to advocate for policy changes at the local, state, and national levels to address the root causes of homelessness and improve access to affordable housing and supportive services. Collaborating with stakeholders across sectors will be essential to driving systemic change.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 0.08 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 4.7 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 21% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Townspeople’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $353,540 -$273,849 $108,904 $7,188 -$97,135
As % of expenses 19.5% -13.5% 5.1% 0.3% -4.2%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $54,987 -$571,671 -$185,959 -$250,212 -$355,975
As % of expenses 2.6% -24.5% -7.6% -8.3% -13.8%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $2,196,352 $1,732,039 $2,354,960 $2,777,348 $2,274,357
Total revenue, % change over prior year 24.0% -21.1% 36.0% 17.9% -18.1%
Program services revenue 29.1% 36.7% 42.4% 33.4% 35.1%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 37.8% 60.2% 51.9% 50.6% 51.8%
All other grants and contributions 5.8% 1.5% 5.0% 10.9% 9.9%
Other revenue 27.2% 1.5% 0.6% 5.1% 3.2%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $1,816,380 $2,032,320 $2,146,056 $2,750,544 $2,321,682
Total expenses, % change over prior year 23.6% 11.9% 5.6% 28.2% -15.6%
Personnel 32.9% 38.9% 39.1% 27.2% 36.2%
Professional fees 1.8% 2.7% 2.9% 6.8% 5.4%
Occupancy 3.1% 3.0% 2.6% 2.1% 2.2%
Interest 14.0% 12.5% 11.8% 9.2% 10.9%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 48.2% 43.0% 43.6% 54.7% 45.2%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $2,114,933 $2,330,142 $2,440,919 $3,007,944 $2,580,522
One month of savings $151,365 $169,360 $178,838 $229,212 $193,474
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $40,000 $40,000
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $2,266,298 $2,499,502 $2,619,757 $3,277,156 $2,813,996

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 4.4 3.6 4.6 5.0 4.9
Months of cash and investments 4.4 3.6 4.6 5.0 4.9
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets -12.5 -14.5 -14.8 -12.6 -16.8
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $662,163 $614,388 $830,403 $1,137,889 $957,189
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $992,522 $977,346 $1,504,681 $1,327,809 $1,990,463
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $10,793,708 $10,787,228 $10,787,228 $10,787,228 $10,803,935
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 26.9% 29.6% 32.3% 34.7% 37.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 118.4% 125.2% 124.9% 128.1% 131.5%
Unrestricted net assets -$1,890,582 -$2,462,253 -$2,648,212 -$2,898,424 -$3,254,399
Temporarily restricted net assets $26,432 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $26,432 $0 $100,000 $119,616 $169,426
Total net assets -$1,864,150 -$2,462,253 -$2,548,212 -$2,778,808 -$3,084,973

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Melissa Peterman

Melissa Peterman joined Townspeople as Executive Director in 2021. A native of San Diego, Ms. Peterman holds a Bachelor’s in political science from San Diego State University and a Master’s in political theory from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining Townspeople, Ms. Peterman served as Vice President of the Comic-Con Museum and was responsible for leading strategic operations and fundraising efforts needed to bring the project to life in Balboa Park. For over 10 years, she has also worked in the fields of affordable housing and homelessness services. As Vice President of Homeless Housing Innovations with the San Diego Housing Commission, she led teams responsible for managing multimillion-dollar projects including the citywide strategic initiatives, Housing Our Heroes and HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, to permanently house 4,000 individuals experiencing homelessness.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 03/28/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Richard Velasquez

Community Member

Term: 2021 - 2024

Richard Velasquez

Community Member

Rebecca Secord

Your Home Legal

Bruce Carron

Advocates for Solutions

Dennis Larkin

Lived Experience Advisers

Kris Kuntz

Anthem Blue Cross

Karen Connolly

San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center

Sean Harris

City of Coronado

Myiesha Phelps

UC San Diego

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/28/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/28/2024

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.


Fiscal year ending
There are no fundraisers recorded for this organization.