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San Diego Homeless Need Blankets, Jackets As Temperature Dips

Above: People line up at the Neil Good Day Center in downtown San Diego to get blankets and sheets of plastic to keep them warm and dry ahead of a cold snap forecast to hit the region, December 5, 2013.

Winter homeless shelters across San Diego County have opened, which means hundreds of homeless people will have a warm bed to sleep in this weekend when overnight temperatures are predicted to dip to the 30s and 40s. But thousands more will have to endure the bitter cold on the streets.

Aired 12/6/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego’s downtown homeless shelter is in urgent need of blankets and jackets. Supplies are out, and a cold snap is forecast to hit the region this weekend.

Donation Drop-Off Locations

Winter Shelter

16th Street & Newton Avenue

(619) 696-8645

Neil Good Day Center

299 17th Street

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 234-3041

“If we can keep people insulated and warm, they can survive,” said Bob McElroy, president and CEO of the Alpha Project, a nonprofit that runs the city of San Diego’s downtown homeless shelter.

McElroy and his team have worked around the clock in recent days distributing plastic and blankets to people whose lives could be at risk. They spent Thursday morning scouring the shores of the San Diego River.

"Probably 150 people out there," McElroy said. "They’re the ones disenfranchised from any services, kind of want to be left alone. But they still are human beings."

McElroy said they have nothing left to hand out to the 30 to 50 people they'll turn away Thursday night from the homeless shelter.

"There's no room in the inn," McElroy said. "We usually give all of them blankets because they have to go back to the streets."

The San Diego Homeless Shelter, located downtown on 16th Street and Newton Avenue, provides 220 beds.

Homeless shelter occupant Tamara Johannsen knows what it's like sleeping in the cold.

"To actually spend a night in those temperatures where you’re putting layer upon layer of anything you can find around you, it’s unimaginable," Johannsen said.

Johannsen was given a bed in the shelter this week. She said she feels blessed, but that she's heartbroken being on the other side of the door and watching people get turned away.

"I just feel sad when I see the ones walk away that don’t get a bed," Johannsen said.

McElroy urged people to bring warm clothing and blanket donations to the Neil Day Good Center at 299 17th St., or to the homeless shelter on 16th Street at Newton Avenue.

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