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Plan To House San Diego’s Homeless In Industrial Tents Gains More Support

Encampments constructed by homeless people stretch down 17th Street in San Di...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: Encampments constructed by homeless people stretch down 17th Street in San Diego's East Village, July 6, 2017.

Plan To House San Diego's Homeless In Industrial Tents Gains More Support

GUEST:

Dan Shea, partner, Paradigm Investment Group

Transcript

Leaders of a plan to erect industrial-sized tents to house San Diego's homeless population announced Monday that more than 200 people have endorsed the proposal, including many civic leaders.

Peter Seidler, part of the Padres ownership team, and restaurateur Dan Shea describe their plan as a bridge to the "Housing First" model being adopted across the country to address the homelessness problem.

In Housing First, the homeless not only get off the streets but are also provided necessary social services like substance abuse treatment, health care and job counseling.

RELATED: Two Businessmen Announce Plan For Housing San Diego’s Homeless

Seidler and Shea first announced their plan last month. Among those announcing their backing of the proposal were philanthropist Malin Burnham, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Mark Cafferty, developer Doug Manchester and Kris Michell, who heads the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and county Supervisor Ron Roberts also signed on to the plan.

In January's annual tally of the area's transient population, 5,619 homeless individuals were counted in the city of San Diego, a 10.3 percent increase from last year. Of those, 3,231 were living on the streets.

RELATED: Count Shows Unsheltered Homeless Growing In North County

City and county officials have responded recently with a series of proposals on how to address both homelessness and a lack of affordable housing. Councilman Chris Ward has suggested using Golden Hall and the Chargers’ former practice facility as temporary housing sites for the homeless. But Shea told KPBS Midday Edition that he does not want to wait for an expected report next month on some of Ward’s proposals.

“We’ve got more reports on homeless in San Diego than anything I can remember in recent years,” Shea said. “So it’s time to start doing something, but within city hall it’s pretty much been determined that neither one of those facilities are going to work, or so the whispers go behind the scenes.”

Ward said in an email that he had not been a part of any conversations between Shea and city officials.

“My office is waiting to learn more and see full analysis by city staff of my initial recommendations,” Ward said. “We have not seen that yet, and are currently moving forward with city staff on due diligence efforts for those recommendations."

A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the mayor appreciated the financial pledges from Seidler and Shea, along with ideas suggested by elected officials and residents.

"A homeless facility needs land as well as funding. There is no perfect spot for homeless services and the city does not own any property that doesn’t come with serious challenges, whether they be logistical or financial," Craig Gustafson said in an email. "The mayor is committed to finding a site and city staff continues to follow the mayor’s direction to identify a suitable location.”

The city of San Diego funded a cold-weather shelter in a tented structure in Barrio Logan for around 30 years. It was shut down for the last time two years ago in favor of a permanent facility run by Father Joe's Villages.

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