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Winter Homeless Shelter Opens For What Could Be Its Final Season

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’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.

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | November 23, 2011 at 9:25 a.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

I still can't believe they are turning an ocean-view high rise on some of the most prime real estate in San Diego into a homeless shelter. How crazy is that?? I wish I could afford a high rise condo with a view of the bay and ocean. Maybe if I quit my job and go sleep on the sidewalk I can!

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | November 24, 2011 at 12:51 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

Good News. Help from the Feds and the State is on its way to force both the City and County of San Diego governments to comply with State laws and Federal regulations to fund Homeless Emergency Shelter by "Maximum Use of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment (TI)." When the funding issues are cleared up the annual $174 million in RDA TI will be an available source of short- and long-term funding to actually solve our Homeless problem.

With the help of Congressma Filner, the State is in the process of clearing up the misinformation that Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment (TI) cannot be used to build and maintain Homeless Emergency Shelters citywide, including locations outside Redevelopment Project Areas such as the beaches.

Mayor Sanders and the City of San Diego thinks they have a loophole in the law to deny RDA TI funding for ongoing maintenance expenses for Emergency Shelters such as water and electric bills. The City of San Diego also claims that they cannot spend RDA TI Funds on the non-profit personnel that run the Shelters for the HUD-mandated Regional Continuum of Care Council.

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