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Still No Site For San Diego Winter Homeless Shelter

Audio

Aired 10/20/10

The third time was not the charm when it came to deciding where San Diego’s winter homeless shelter should go. The city council put off a decision until the end of the week.

— The third time was not the charm when it came to deciding where San Diego’s winter homeless shelter should go. The city council put off a decision until the end of the week.

Homeless people bunker down for the night as early as 7 p.m. across the street from the winter homeless shelter.
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Above: Homeless people bunker down for the night as early as 7 p.m. across the street from the winter homeless shelter.

The council was looking at whether the shelter could be put in the parking lots of Qualcomm Stadium or the Balboa Naval Hospital. But as the rainy night wore on it was clear there wasn’t enough support for either location. The council ultimately voted 7-to-1 to hold a special meeting on Friday so that more sites can be considered.

Council president Ben Hueso voted against the motion saying he didn’t want to put off picking a site again. Last week Hueso voted against a proposed site downtown.

About 60 people came out to urge the council to act, including Silvia Lavanos. She’s been homeless since 1980 and she implored the council to find a place for the winter shelter.

"I don’t want to die on the sidewalk, that’s for sure. But I have come very close to doing that,"she said.

A homeless man did die in his wheelchair in San Diego’s East Village on Monday night. The winter shelter is scheduled to open at the end of November. It would have 220 beds and would be run by the Alpha Project, a non-profit that provides services to homeless people in San Diego.

Bob McElroy is the organization’s president. He says the city council is playing politics while people’s lives are at risk. He said the rain makes the situation that much worse.

"The sleeping bags are wet, the blankets are wet. They huddle together in groups for fellowship," he said. "You know, what else can you do but survive? I mean that’s what these folks try to do on a day-to-day basis is just survive."

McElroy said he spent Tuesday handing out sheets of plastic to homeless people to help keep them dry and warm in the rain.

Members of the city council all expressed their desire to come up with a solution. San Diego is working on creating a permanent shelter in downtown.

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