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The Fight To End Chronic Homelessness In SD Continues

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Aired 11/18/10

There’s a lot of lip service paid to the issue of homelessness around San Diego, but on Wednesday the United Way focused on organizations it supports that are actually working to help the homeless.

— There’s a lot of lip service paid to the issue of homelessness around San Diego, but on Wednesday the United Way focused on organizations it supports that are actually working to help the homeless.

Pigeons feed on scraps of a pizza as a homeless person looks for food in a trash can.
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Above: Pigeons feed on scraps of a pizza as a homeless person looks for food in a trash can.

They are the weathered and worn down, the destitute, often addicted, mentally ill and all but invisible souls who populate the urban underbelly. More than 60 chronically homeless people died on San Diego streets this year. But many more survived, due in large part to $1.2 million raised by United Way for organizations like the Alpha Project.

That group’s housing program helped 84 chronically homeless find permanent places to live. The Alpha Project’s Bob McElroy said the program has kept people from dying on the street.

“We’ve saved 40 people’s lives that probably would have died on the streets and are now alive today and getting their lives back together because of these programs,” McElroy said.

The money also goes to groups like the San Diego Rescue Mission, which offers a haven to recover from an illness or injury. Herb Johnson, the Rescue Mission’s CEO, said building relationships is the first step toward ending chronic homelessness.

“Most homeless people don’t trust anybody because nobody has ever taken care of them or been good to them, and they live on a day-to-day basis,” Johnson said.

The United Way is working with service providers to try to end chronic homelessness in the county within 10 years. In the past year and a half, 177 chronically homeless people have found places to stay.

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