Originally published March 11, 2013 at 6:53 a.m., updated March 11, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.
A 223-bed permanent homeless shelter in downtown San Diego opened today, following months of delays.
The one-stop homeless service center, called Connections Housing, is located at 6th Avenue and B Street in the old World Trade Center building. The facility is expected to eliminate the need for an annual winter tent program, which regularly generated heated neighborhood opposition.
Some residents moved into the 14-floor, $38 million center last month. In all, 73 residents will live in studio apartments; another 150 will have transitional beds.
Additional services such as job counseling, mental health screening, and drug and alcohol treatment are also offered.
Using street outreach teams, Connections Housing has already identified 300 people who need housing and social services, including people with health conditions and frequent users of hospital emergency rooms.
The project is modeled after the PATHMall in Los Angeles and is part of strategy to help end chronic homelessness in San Diego. A recent count found nearly 1,000 people living on downtown streets.
"I think it's a step," said James Silverwood, the CEO of Affirmed Housing Group, which built the shelter. "Everyone has to understand that it's not the solution, we're not going to be able to get all the people off the streets, but we're going to be able to make an impact especially in this city core down here."
PATH San Diego will be running the shelter. Jessica Wishan, PATH's director, said the consolidation of services is especially important.
"For a person to be experiencing homelessness to get help, anywhere from housing to healthcare to jobs, just having that one-stop shop model makes a really big difference in removing barriers," she said.
Earlier this month, city officials celebrated the restoration of The Mason hotel located on Fifth Avenue, which is giving a new lifeline to low-income, mentally disabled adults who are at risk of homelessness.
Hotel Sanford, located next door to the Mason will soon be home to 130 low-income seniors. Another project, Celadon, on 9th and Broadway recently broke ground and will provide 250 rental apartments for families, as well as youth aging out of foster care.