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Rescue Mission Hosts Seventh Sleepless San Diego

Evening Edition

Aired 9/20/13 on KPBS News.

Sleepless San Diego is an annual event bringing the community together to fight homelessness. In its seventh year, it's a way to help the public understand what being homeless is really like.

Sleepless San Diego is an annual event bringing the community together to fight homelessness. In its seventh year, it's a way to help the public understand what being homeless is really like.

Nearly half a million people in San Diego County live below the poverty level and half of them are working poor, gathering cans or doing whatever they can to make a little money. For the estimated 1,100 homeless in Downtown, the situation is worse. That's why the San Diego Rescue Mission puts on its annual Sleepless event.

"This is a tremendously well received event," said Herb Johnson, CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission. "Here's all the folks we have working here, helping us out today."

Sleepless San Diego is a series of activities and programs designed to help individuals, community leaders and local companies understand issues the city's homeless face on a regular basis.

Johnson said children are often the invisible homeless among us.

"You didn't know that they're bathing and cleaning themselves in the restrooms in the high schools where you go," Johnson said.

He said 45 percent of the homeless population in San Diego are families. Demand for shelter among single mothers with children is up 90 percent at the Rescue Mission, where they care for up to 400 clients a night.

"We have made arrangements for 500 people or more to sleep out. It's a secure environment...this is not an attempt to emulate homelessness," Johnson said.

Sleepless San Diego will be held from 4:30 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday at Liberty Station in Point Loma.

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