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Council Chooses Golden Hall For Winter Homeless Shelter

Audio

Aired 10/25/10

Why did the city council decide to move the winter homeless shelter to Golden Hall? We speak to Metro Reporter Katie Orr about the other locations the council considered, and how Golden Hall is different from past sites that were used for the winter shelter.

Why did the city council decide to move the winter homeless shelter to Golden Hall? We speak to Metro Reporter Katie Orr about the other locations the council considered, and how Golden Hall is different from past sites that were used for the winter shelter.

Katie Orr, metro reporter for KPBS News.

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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.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and coming up on These Days, this morning, we host the candidates vying for the two San Diego City council seats that are up for grabs, district six candidates Howard Wane and Lorie Zap will debate for the first part of the hour, then we'll host Felipe Waco and David Alvarez. It's the start of a full week of candidates and issues as we move closer to the November 2nd election. That's all ahead this hour on These Days. First the news.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. And you're listening to These Days on KPBS. We have had a very early beginning to cool, wet, winter weather in San Diego, but the decision on where to place this year's temporary winter homeless center, has been -- for the winter shelter, but the decision is still not completely settled. KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr is here to explain is explain Katie.

KATIE ORR: Good morning Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Golden hall, how did they come to that agreement?

KATIE ORR: Well, the counsel has tried and failed several times to approve a seat for the shelter. They first started talking about it back in September, and they couldn't agree on a site until last Friday, the council voted to get more information about golden hall, and that came after several hours of deadlocking on other sites, golden hall was suggested by Carlton Mayo who's actually suggested it before.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what were the other sites that the counsel considered?

KATIE ORR: Well, the first one that they considered, and will site that was actually recommended by San Diego housing commission was in the east village at 13th and F. And of course, it's been there for a couple of years now. It was strongly opposed by Kevin Faulkner who was the councilman in the east village. Then they moved on, they hooked near Petco, but the Padres wouldn't allow them to put it there, then they looked at Qualcom parking lot. There were a lot of objections to that, it would be hard for people to get to. It would disrupt a lot of events that they have in the parking hot. Of course, there are the issue of the Chargers games that are going on in the park. They also looked at a community gym, an old house you go commission building in barrio Logan. And finally on Friday, they had this meeting and they weren't getting anywhere, so they took a great, and they came back with the golden hall suggestion. People would actually be in a building, the site could hold more people, it's not near schools, it's in a business area, not eight of people live around there. It wasn't the first choice, but ultimately seven of eight counsel members approved it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As I said, this is a temporary approval, what does that mean.

KATIE ORR: What they did on Friday is asked city staff to get more approval for putting the shelter in golden hall. And I think they need to formally docket it so people can come and talk about it, in a few weeks, the staff will come back with more details, but it looks like if everything pans out, the majority of the council will support is. They looked happy to have this as an option to consider.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Doesn't golden hall have prearranged events that are to take place?

KATIE ORR: Yeah, and that's probably the biggest problem. It has eight contracts that it's already signed with various vendors to have meetings there. For instance, they regularly have a citizen naturalization ceremony at golden hall, and the city has actually heard 15 in about a hundred and $75,000 from the contracts. So unless they were able to work something out with the vendors, to move it to another location, they might have to refund those contracts. So it'll be interesting to see what the city staff actually says.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If indeed that they have to pay back that money to one of these group, would that be I deal breaker? Because I read that in order for golden hall to be finalized for a winter shelter site it has to be cost neutral for the 73's general fund.

KATIE ORR: Yeah, that's something that councilman Phagwara Apti added to the motion, basically the city, to put up the two temporary shelters, the veterans' shelter tent, and the homeless shelter tent for the -- it costs about $40,000 for the city. So they would save some money by not constructing the second at the point, but they don't want to be stuck with any costs at golden hall. So this'll be interesting it see if, yeah, we have to give this money back, if that's something that would cause some of the council members to not support it examine. But we've been through many sites in the city, and they weren't getting any agreement on any others.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As I said, the council have a seated 7 to 1 for the golden hall location. That one opposed was councilman Kevin Faulkner, and his district includes down up to. Apparently he is still not happy that the winter shelter will be located in his district.

KATIE ORR: He's been saying it for the past few years, he doesn't want to see downtown getting stuck with this shelter every winter. He admits there is an issue with homelessness downtown, but he wants to see addressed in other areas as well, like another temporary shelter in, let's say, like district three, hill crest, north park. But a recent survey shows a thousand homeless people live downtown. And that's where a lot of the social services are. And several homeless people themselves testified when they put on the issue of Qualcom that they wouldn't go, they're not gonna get on a trolley to go down to Qualcom and sleep and then come back downtown and get their lunch or social service agency.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What do advocates for the homeless say about the plan to move the shelter to golden hall?

KATIE ORR: They were really excited about it. When the vote was approved, the audience started cheering and clapping, and we're very excited to have it there, it's centrally locate forward them, it isn't a tent, it's a building. They would have to bring in a shower trailer for people to get cleaned up. But they could potentially hold more people there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Isn't golden hall where they usually have a big Thanksgiving meal for the needy each year? Would that have to be moved as well.

KATIE ORR: Pall Macavoy, who is president -- sounded as if it would be very convenient because they would have the Thanksgiving dinner there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, if the golden hall site is given final approval, when does the winter shelter open?

KATIE ORR: They're aiming to get it up and running by Thanksgiving. So at the end of November. We have had a relatively rough haul, and a rainy season, so I don't know if there would be a push to get it in sooner. But they do have to fund the operations of it, and they would have to make sure the site is ready. So they say they're shooting to get it ready on Thanksgiving.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And when does the council meet again on this issue?

KATIE ORR: November 3rd, the day after the election. They will be taking up the issue then.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much for speaking with us Katie.

KATIE ORR: Thank you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr. Coming up a human rights advocate discusses women's rights. That's as these days continues here on KPBS.

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