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San Diego Homeless Storage Center Needs More Funding

Evening Edition

Aired 3/6/12 on KPBS News.

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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'sandiegoaztec2012'

sandiegoaztec2012 | March 14, 2012 at 10:28 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

The San Diego community has been moving too slowly in any attempt to fix the continually growing issue of homeless people in San Diego County. Moreover, the problem is hardly improving and there has been the lack of any real solution to get the homeless off of the street corners of San Diego. Since beginning my studies at San Diego State University in 2007, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of homeless occupying the various districts of San Diego.

As the numbers grow, so is the demand by those who are homeless for a place to keep their personal belongings, in places other than the normal shopping cart. I believe that the Water Man Check-In Center’s creation was a great effort by the community to assist San Diego’s homeless population. It moves me that over 150 of those who are homeless have been able to obtain jobs because of the current access that they are given to this storage center. The policy for what is stored, which strictly prohibits drugs, alcohol, and weapons, is a great policy and shows that the organization truly cares for helping the homeless turn their lives around.

It is heartbreaking that this beneficial operation may shut down due to a lack of funding, as community leaders cut back spending on some programs that serve so much good for the community. Leaders in the San Diego community need to realize the importance of having something like these storage centers, and the negative consequences that may arise from disposing of it. They need to take concrete steps and actions now to fix the growing problem. The report mentioned that if this service center went away, there would be more and more homeless on the streets without jobs and a homeless person carrying their belongings in any way, shape, or form that they can, will become more and more common sight. We need to help our fellow San Diegans turn their lives around by doing anything and everything we can to make it happen.

TONY BELSITO
San Diego

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Avatar for user 'columbo3'

columbo3 | April 23, 2012 at 8:56 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Simple, start charging a dollar a day. With 300 bins full, thats $9000 a month.

( | suggest removal )