Rain Forces Homeless Shelters To Overflow
Thursday, December 23, 2010
SAN DIEGO This week’s rain flooded local riverbeds and freeway underpasses. The foul weather has also forced thousands of San Diego’s homeless to try and squeeze into the city's two shelters.
Malia Mason considers herself lucky. She has slept in bed number 18 at San Diego’s winter shelter since it opened on December 2nd. “All they expect all of us is to treat this place like it’s our home," said Malia.
Mason said getting and keeping one of the 220 WWII bunk beds at the shelter is simple if you follow three simple rules. "Rules are rules. You have rules out there on the street, just like you have rules in here.”
The 170 men and 50 women think the shelter's rules, no alcohol, no drugs and "make your own bed each day" are worth following. Especially since the only three shelters left in the city are for homeless vets at Veteran’s Village's 150-bed facility.
There’s no room at Father Joe’s facility eithermbecause it’s closed this year due to a lack of money.
With the stormy weather, that means even more people are turning to San Diego’s winter shelter.
“We’re full and we turn away people every night, probably between 50 and 100 people each night” said Bob McElroy, president and CEO of the Alpha project which runs the shelter.
Malia said it breaks her heart to see people turned away. It takes very little to do a lot she said, especially for the people who are left out in the rain and cold.
“Being homeless sucks. If you see people under the bridge, help them out, even if it’s a little McDonald’s—give it to them. Give them a blanket. All they want is the encouragement that someone cares. They want to get out from under that bridge as much as you want them to be gone too."
Malia said she and her husband, who is also in the men's quarters at the shelter, are trying to find more permanent housing.