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Homeless Endure Bitter Cold On San Diego Streets

San Diego will feel a gradual warm-up Wednesday, following several days of record low temperatures in the 20s and 30s, according to forecasters. The weather change won’t come soon enough for thousands of homeless people who have endured bitter cold conditions on the streets.

Winter Shelter's Top 10 Needs

  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Blankets
  • Twin Sheets
  • Phone Cards
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Bottled Water
  • Hygiene Items
  • Undergarments
  • Pillows & Pillow Cases

Donation Drop-Off Locations

“There are families and seniors sleeping out in this weather,” said Father Joe Carroll of St. Vincent de Paul Villages, “80-85 year old people. They have nowhere to go.”

The San Diego winter homeless shelter is usually open by Thanksgiving, but a delay caused by permit requirements for the new location, at 1625 Newton Street in Barrio Logan, has kept the doors closed.

Bob McElroy, president of the Alpha Project, a non-profit organization that runs the shelter, said he’s hopeful the shelter will open on Dec. 2. That’s the latest date the 200-bed shelter has opened in more than seven years.

McElroy said it has been a very stressful week. “They're talking about how to keep your pets in from the elements and your plants from the elements, but I didn't see anything about the people and the elements,” he said.

McElroy said he has distributed 10,000 square feet of plastic this week to help people stay insulated and dry. “If you drive downtown, you'll see blankets hanging over every fence. When the weather doesn't get above 60-65 degrees, and with dampness and the wind, those blankets don't dry out, and we only have so many blankets we can replace.”

Four shelters in North County are also scheduled to open this week: 50-bed Operation Hope in Vista; 50-bed Bread of Life in Oceanside; 40-bed Alliance for Regional Solutions in Escondido; and a 65-bed La Posada de Guadalupe, operated in Carlsbad by Catholic Charities. The San Diego winter homeless shelter expects to accommodate 800 people over the next four months.

According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, there are 8,500 homeless people in the county. Most won’t have any shelter this winter.

“I would really encourage people to come down to the winter shelter, bring your bags of clothes and donations, to actually see who the people are that are there, and what goes on there,” McElroy urged.

He said the shelter is in need of community involvement and donations, including blankets, pillows, towels and toiletries. Elderly residents also enjoy stuffed animals to hold, he noted.

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