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Homeless Children In San Diego To Transition From Campground To Large Tent Structure

November 27, 2017 1:16 p.m.

Homeless Children In San Diego To Transition From Campground To Large Tent Structure


Kim Mitchell, president and CEO, Veterans Village of San Diego

Related Story: Homeless Children In San Diego To Transition From Campground To Large Tent Structure


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Over the next few weeks San Diego plans to open three large tent structures that will house 700 homeless people. Attend will be dedicated to children and families including the dozens of children who are living at the city's homeless campground. Susan Murphy has more.
Nobody was expecting 50 children and their parents at the temporary homeless campground that's why this time they are prepared. Father Joe's villages will be operating intense dedicated families in a gated parking lot to go they will have beds and cribs for 150 people.

We will receive all the families in the campground.

Ruth Berlin said they are expecting many more babies, children and their parents because of what they are seeing at their other shelters.

We know that our waiting list for the family living center is months long. There are families out there and we will be ready to serve them.

She says father Joe's is the most ideal location because it's already equipped for children.
We sometimes have to have 160 kids at a time.

There will be a kids friendly area.

That's well we want because then we can help them.

It's a great place to be safe and to play.

She says having 150 additional people on campus will be a challenge. The programs have limited capacity so do the dining halls were daily meals are provided.

We know we will have to extend the hours.

It will open on December 18. They will work hard to provide the best care possible.
Attend is an ideal situation so as quickly as we can, we will move people into our regular structure.

A couple blocks away is where a second tent will provide 300 £.50 for men and women in be run by the Alpha Project. Amy is chief operating officer.

We have women in the front and barriers between the two sections.
The nonprofit operated the homeless campgrounds which opened in September for 200 people because she's is a step down plan to close the campground is underway.

We can take them from over there and we can bring them over here.

It is scheduled to open on December 1 in addition, party will be given to people from housing vouchers and housing navigators will help people cycle through the tents were quickly secure a permanent place to live.

Is going to become more easier for both the client living on the street. This will provide a spot for people to come and see the people and work with them.

Also an abundance of services including health care and counseling will help people gain stability including those with drug and alcohol addictions.

We don't want any barriers. We just want to help them. So want to get it, we engage and engage and try to get them to a treatment facility.

And includes showers and 24 hour security. Two meals will be served each day. They can bring their service animals in two bags full of longings.

We have been check at 8:00 at night.

Those that don't check in on time will lose their bed at night.

Will go and get somebody that wants to come in.

350 people are allowed to fit under one roof but she is not worried.

We been doing this for so many years. People are really happy and grateful.

A couple are hoping to get into a tent.

I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression.

The couple has been homeless and living on the streets for several years.

We need a roof over our head.

Elizabeth hopes she will get in also. She is desperate for place asleep.

I been -- I need a safe environment that is drug-free in that will be important to especially if I was trying to be clean.
A homeless countdown more than 5600 people in the county sleeping on the streets.
Veterans villages operating the third tent will be located on sports arena Boulevard and will have 200 beds for veterans.'s now scheduled to be open no later than January 1. Joining me is the president and CEO of veterans Village Kim Mitchell. Welcome to the program.

Thank you. The veterans Village tent was scheduled to open around December 1.

It was an aggressive schedule and the construction and the electrical work has taken a little bit longer than expected. The tent will not be turned over to us to be able to start moving in items and bunks until middle or later this week. That kind of put a one date as unreasonable to be ready to bring in 200 homeless veterans I Friday.

It sounds as if you're giving yourself a wide latitude but you're hoping to get this up and running before the first of the year.

Absolutely. We want to open it as soon as possible. Were still working at bringing on staff to operate and run the tent and have all the items in place in the mattresses and the tasks and the chairs and all the things that are needed to be able to support the veterans and the staff at the tent.

You became CEO veterans Village this summer. The organization ran winter sheltered tents in San Diego for many years. Are you basing this on that experience?

My staff are very experienced and knowledgeable are using the previous knowledge of running in operating a shelter but there are some differences because this tent will be open for a continuous two years. So we are working very closely with father Joe's villages and working and coordinating our efforts with the city and the mayor's office.

This October San Diego reach a goal of finding supportive housing for 1000 homeless veterans. It's not clear how many are still unsheltered in San Diego. Do you have any estimates question
I don't. I know it varies and is hard to keep track of the veterans because they are very mobile and they move around and they move from place to place and when they don't have an exact address or don't have a cell phone, it's hard to keep track. I would suspect it's over 1000.
Still 1000 homeless veterans living in shelters on the streets?

Yes because we know that we had in her 900.

How will the shelter tent coincide with these efforts already underway to find housing?

It will provide a safe and clean environment to that -- that provides one and 20 days or less to veterans coming in and get some mental health treatments and substance abuse treatment and then while they wait to move into a permanent supportive housing situation.

Do you think it's easier to get veterans into permanent housing as opposed to the general homeless population?

Many are ready to move into a permanent supportive housing. They're waiting on a place to move in. The challenge will be to have the appropriate number of places available. So as you know, there is a shortage of actual affordable housing and low income housing right now here in San Diego. So we are working very closely with the city and the city Council and the San Diego housing commission to ensure that we bring veterans into the tent, there will be places available for them to move into.

Operators of all the tents are pledged to the city that 65% of the occupants will move on to permanent housing. Based on how long it took to reach the 1000 mark is that a realistic goal?
It is a goal. It is one that we will try to achieve and maintain and look and something that we are working very closely with the other service providers is after about six or seven months, we will reevaluate to see what were the challenges in getting veterans placed into the permanent supportive housing. If it does look like it is an achievable goal are not. We will strive to achieve that. In the long run we are doing what is best for our veterans and were going to meet their needs.

So many homeless veterans have Artie Burns placed in permanent supportive housing into a, do you think the people who are going to make use of the winter tent will be the hardest to place?

The party is going to be on folks that are already matched in the system and already have been identified as having a voucher and so they will be brought in. I think the more challenging veterans will be the test once we go through that list will be the ones that are coming in off the street for emergency shelter. Trying to get them coordinated through the system
What kind of a tent are you hoping to make with this shelter in the number of homeless veterans living on the streets of San Diego?

I would like to see all of our homeless veterans get off the street. And into a place that they could call home, a place that is safe in a place that is theirs. That is the ultimate goal. What were going to do is the shelter is a start to a solution that is a very coordinated effort by the city and by the housing commission and by the service providers because together we do want to make San Diego a safer and better place for all of those in all of San Diegans that live here.

I've been speaking with Kim Mitchell. Thank you.

Thank you and happy holidays.