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A Temporary Fix To San Diego’s Winter Homeless Shelter

Evening Edition

Above: City Councilman Todd Gloria and Peter Callstrom, executive director of the San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless, talk to KPBS about the permanent homeless shelter.

Aired 6/14/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Todd Gloria, San Diego City Councilmember, District 3

Peter Callstrom, Executive Director, San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless

Transcript

This year was supposed to be the first when San Diego would not need a temporary homeless shelter.

A permanent shelter, Connections Housing, is being built at the old World Trade Center building on 1250 Sixth Ave.

The shelter was supposed to be finished by Dec. 1, but this week the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee approved a backup plan for another temporary homeless shelter in case the permanent one isn't finished on time.

City Councilman Todd Gloria told KPBS the temporary homeless shelter is usually set up by Thanksgiving, so the City Council did not want to wait until the beginning of December to provide homeless housing. He also said there were delays caused by "some difficulties actually transferring the properties."

"The city owned it, we've sold it," he said. "The construction time frame was always one year, 365 days, so Connections Housing and our partners there got access on December 1 of last year. So according to their schedule, they'll open on December 1. They may be ability to open it sooner, but we don't want to take any chances. And there are a lot of administrative hurdles that need to be overcome."

He said while the City Council committee only took action this week, they've been working on a contingency plan for "some time."

Peter Callstrom, executive director of the San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless, said in January's count of the homeless, they found 9,641 homeless people, with 55 percent living on the street. In downtown San Diego, about 1,000 people live on the street, he said.

While the new shelter will only have 134 beds, Gloria said it will also provide services year-round, which the temporary shelter could not do.

"You know I think that in San Diego, we care about our homeless year-round, not just 16 weeks in the wintertime," he said. "We can do better that that. Once Connections opens, you'll have 52 weeks a year of services."

Temporary housing would likely be in the same location as last year, on Newton Ave. in Barrio Logan.

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