Tuesday, March 6, 2012
A place for San Diego's downtown homeless people to store their possessions is in desperate need of funding in order to remain open.
A place for San Diego's downtown homeless people to store their possessions is in desperate need of funding to remain open. After a year in operation, it's already being credited for taking scores of shopping carts off the streets and providing relief to many homeless who've turned around and gotten jobs.
This used to be a common site on many of the side streets of downtown San Diego. Homeless people camped out next to their possessions because they had no other place to keep them secure.
That's why the Water Man Check-In Center was created last February.
"Within eight days we were filled to capacity," said David Ross, who came up with the idea for the facility.
Ross is a well known homeless advocate who got the moniker the Water Man for distributing water to homeless people on the streets of San Diego.
Today the check-in center bearing his name and provides about 360 secure bins for people to keep their belongings off the street.
"Now the process is you come in and get a bin, you show your ID, we have a file on you and no drugs, no alcohol and no weapons, and you can keep that bin as long as you have the need," said Ross.
He says many homeless people visit the center two or three times a day, so they can change their clothes, prepare for a doctors visit or even a job interview.
"We've had probably over 150 people who have gotten jobs as a result of having this connection for their personal belongings. It's an amazing thing because it relieves them of that anxiety," he said.
But the check-in center is running out of money. Councilmember Todd Gloria convinced the city to come up with $45,000 to keep it open through June.
Rick Gentry with the San Diego Housing Commission said if this valuable resource shuts down: "You'd see more shopping carts, you'd see more people with napsacks on their backs, you'd see people with their entire possessions being carried around either in front or behind them," Gentry said.
Donations can be sent to: The San Diego Housing Commission at 1122 Broadway, Ste. 300, 5th Floor, San Diego, CA 92101. Donations should specify the Check-In Center.