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San Diego Mayor Faulconer Announces Plan To Open Industrial Tents For Homeless

September 13, 2017 1:28 p.m.

San Diego Mayor Faulconer Announces Plan To Open Industrial Tents For Homeless

GUEST:

Andrew Bowen, reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: San Diego Mayor Announces Plan To Open Three Industrial Tents For Homeless

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

I am Michael Lipkin. It is Wednesday, September 13. The top story, the city officials said they will open three temporary homeless shelters. Here is Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

This will represent a significant expansion of the homeless service network and one of the most immediate and effective actions that we can take to solve this crisis with an emphasis on immediate.

The announcement comes a day after San Diego County announced a nether death in the hepatitis A outbreak. 16 people have died and 421 have been impacted. It has been caused by poor sanitary conditions downtown. The city started washing sidewalks with Legion said it will try keeping 14 public restrooms open up around the clock. But some say that will not get the homeless people off the street quickly enough. Joining me is Andrew Bowen. Welcome.

Thank you.

Where will they put up this? Back to will be in the East Village downtown. One site was where the press conference this morning took place. That is a parking lot owned by the villages at 14th and commercial. It is worth noting that father Joe plans to build a 16 story permanent housing complex. Another is a vacated street at 16th and Newton and that will be operated by the alpha project and the third is a vacant lot on the sports arena Boulevard and that is to be operated by the veteran village I San Diego.

How many people can they house? But it will be at least 100 beds per shelter. At a minimum, 300 but they could also offer heads of up to 250 so perhaps between 300 and 750 beds.

Here is a quote from Stephen he was homeless.

I want to go now. I really do. I hope they put it up. I mean, because, I am tired -- I was living out here. It was fun at first but now I am ready to get back on the good foot and living out here is cool for a minute but it is not sanitary expect this will not just be a tent. What else will be there and will be more sanitary than living on the street?

These are not camping tents. These are industrial size and permanent structures. They are supposed to have restrooms, showers and meals and 24 hour security. The staff is supposed to be on site from the non-profits that will operate them and also to connect people to healthcare and substance abuse treatment and drug placement programs.

They have been criticized for not responding quickly enough to the hepatitis A crisis. Some handwashing facilities was slowed down by redtape. That has been cleared but do we know when this city expects to have the tent installs? Is there a fast track process? But the mayor says he is working as fast as he can. Most advocates are hoping that is true. The mayor wants to have at least one tent up and running by December and hopefully sooner. It is unclear when the others would potentially be set up. Father Joe is forming a permanent structure on the site of one tent. They are committing to operate that tent through September of next year. At some point, it will have to come down to make room for the permanent housing

There are proposals by Chris Kate who represents Kearny Mesa. He identified a few locations, vacant lots that could serve potentially as extra sites for more temporary shelters. I think that there is a concern of further concentrating homelessness in downtown San Diego which is disproportionately impacted by this problem. Spreading across the city could be a way forward.

The managing partner have been pushing the city for months to open the tent

They have offered to find at least two of them but they were not at the conference this morning. Do we know if the city has accepted their offer?

The press sent out by the mayor and a acknowledge $1.5 million in donations for the tents. There was not an explicit information on when the money would be released or whether or not the city would for certain except those dollars. The mayor said he did expect that the tent plan would attract private donations and he said the city would spend some of its own money to fill gaps in funding that we do not have specific on where that money would come from or how much this would cost. The showers need people to keep directly the. Security will cost money. I think that there is certainly a lot of details that mayor acknowledged that have to work out. He wanted to make this announcement as soon as possible, sooner rather than later, identifying these three sites. Like you mentioned father Joe's village. Bob McElroy said the tents are going to give the city more time to build permanent housing but the city is lacking to help address this crisis. Do we know the status a permanent housing outside of father Joe's plan expect there are plans to build permanent housing for the housing developments and the outfit project. Some things are entitled. They have blue prints that are done and the east is dry. The only thing that is lacking is funny pair it is my understanding that this is the biggest obstacle to building more permanent housing in sending a. Indigo is competing with other states or competitive grants and low income housing tax credits from the federal government. There is a limited pool of dollars that goes to building these things and it is extremely expensive to build housing. The serious barrier to building the long-term solutions and everyone acknowledges that we need long-term solutions. The biggest barrier is simply lack of money.

I have been speaking with Andrew Bowen. Thank you.

Thank you.