Winter Homeless Shelter Opens For What Could Be Its Final Season
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Aired 11/22/11 on KPBS News.
San Diego’s temporary homeless shelter opened its doors this week in Barrio Logan. The shelter provides beds to 220 people a night. But it could soon be a thing of the past.
SAN DIEGO San Diego’s annual winter homeless shelter is up and running. It’s expected to serve more than 800 people this winter season. But this may be the last year this tent goes up.
A new, permanent shelter is scheduled to replace the tent next year. It’s going to be located at the San Diego World Trade Center building at 6th Avenue and B Street in downtown’s financial district.
Bob McElroy runs the Alpha Project. His group runs the temporary shelter and will be in charge of the 150 emergency beds at the new shelter. He said while there will be 70 fewer emergency beds, the shelter will be open year round, which will make a difference.
“It’s not enough, obviously,” he said. “I mean everybody knows it’s not enough. But it’s something.”
McElroy said the situation is frustrating because San Diego finally has the political will to tackle the homeless problem, but the economy means there aren’t any resources.
Councilman Todd Gloria emphasizes the shelter will provide a number of services to transition people out of homelessness. And he said it would serve as a model for other regional shelters when more money is available. Gloria points out San Diego’s working on several major projects, from a Convention Center expansion to a stadium to a new library.
“The first project that’s going to get done in the homeless shelter,” he said. “I think that says a lot about our city, where our priorities lie.”
Still, there’s a lot left for San Diego to do. The latest homeless count found there are more than 3,000 homeless people living on the city's streets. And everyone involved agrees the number of people in need of help is only going up.
San Diego spends about half-a-million dollars to operate both the temporary winter shelter and the Veterans Village shelter. The shelter operators seek donations to cover the rest of the cost. Both shelters wills operate into next April.