Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Rick Gentry, President/CEO, San Diego Housing Commission
Bob McElroy, President/CEO, Alpha Project
Jessica Wishan, Director, Path, San Diego Connections
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless puts the number of people in the City of San Diego without shelter at 3,000. So when then-Mayor Bob Filner promised to keep the city's two winter homeless shelter open year-round, that came as good news for those living on the streets and homeless advocates. But, Filner's promise seems to have been premature; The San Diego Housing Commission said after crunching the numbers, it determined there's not enough money to keep those shelters open past April. The former mayor didn't calculate in administration costs for running the shelters year-round.
This miscalculation is causing concern at the time of year when San Diego would usually begin its annual debate about where to place the city's temporary winter homeless shelter.
This oversight has left the fate of those shelters up-in-the air and has created a great deal of uncertainty and concern among San Diego's homeless advocates and homeless population.
The Alpha Project in San Diego runs one of the winter shelters. President and CEO Bob McElroy said keeping the shelters open year-round would help the organization get people off the streets for good.
"You can help detox people from the street," using the shelter to stabilize them and get them into other programs, he said. "But once they leave, we can't reach them."
McElroy believes ending homelessness in San Diego is within reach, but only if tools, like year-round shelters, are in place.