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New San Diego Storage Center Geared Toward Helping People Who Are Homeless

Inside the storage facility are 45-gallon bins that people can use to store n...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS News

Above: Inside the storage facility are 45-gallon bins that people can use to store nonperishable items, June 12, 2018.

The city of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission are spending $1.4 million on a facility that will provide storage for up to 500 people for at least a year.

The new storage center on 20th Street has no set time limit for how long people can leave their belongings — they just have to be checked on at least every 90 days.

City leaders are hoping 45-gallon storage bins will be able to help people living on the streets.

"I need somewhere to put my stuff," said Jia Lawton who has been homeless in San Diego since 2006. "I don’t like pushing a grocery basket, I have arthritis."

On the streets, safe storage is a constant challenge, Lawton said.

"We need room to put our clothes. We need room to put our medicine," she said.

When Lawton's mom died a year ago, she was not able to keep items that had sentimental value to her.

"I lost all my mothers things," Lawton said. "They’re very, very important things, like my brother's jacket, my dad's cufflinks. That’s where I could put the important stuff; my important paperwork. Everybody will steal from you out here and I don’t have anywhere to put my stuff."

RELATED: Storage Facility For Homeless People Lacks Stable Funding Source

The new storage center on 20th Street is able to securely house up to 500 people’s belongings. It is similar to an outside storage facility on 16th Street.

"It helps them to be comfortable that their stuff is safe," said Danny McCray, who oversees the outside facility operated by the nonprofit Think Dignity. "While they look for work or take care of appointments."

McCray used to be homeless and now manages the 16th Street storage center which accommodates around 400 people. He said they have a waiting list of 150 people who are looking for storage.

RELATED: San Diego And Carlsbad: Two Different Approaches To Homelessness

"It’s not just to keep stuff to get it out of the way," McCray said. "It’s to encourage you to go to the next step and that’s to try and get housing or affordable housing."

The new storage facility will have homeless outreach workers helping people connect with resources.

"Some clients tend to shy away from these type of places," said Rich Penska who works at the nonprofit Mental Health Systems (MHS) which is operating the 20th Street storage facility. "So the homeless outreach workers will do that initial engagement. Attempt to make the homeless client comfortable and trusting of the environment."

The city and the San Diego Housing Commission are spending $1.4 million to keep the facility open for at least a year. The storage center will officially open Wednesday.

The city of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission are spending $1.4 million on a facility that will provide storage for up to 500 people for at least a year.

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