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Homeless Families Move Into Golden Hall, Next Door To San Diego's Elected Leaders

April 2, 2019 1:35 p.m.

GUEST: Susan Murphy, health reporter, KPBS News

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Related Story: Homeless Families Move Into Golden Hall, Next Door To San Diego's Elected Leaders


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.

Speaker 1: 00:00 More than 140 women, men and children are now staying at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego as the tent shelter they were living in is said to be dismantled and relocated. KPBS health reporter Susan Murphy has been covering the impact of this transition and what options for a permanent shelter may look like. Susan, welcome. Hi Jade. Thanks for having me. So the families who moved in yesterday, we're staying at one of the largest tent shelters operated by Father Joe's. Remind us why they ended up moving to golden hall. Okay, so first of all, yes, they were staying at one of the bridge shelters. It's one of three city funded bridge shelters. They're basically big, large gray industrial tents, um, filled with homeless people. The father, Joe's villages tent has families, men, women and children. And so the plans before they even put the shelter up was that they were going to build a permanent housing structure in that location.

Speaker 1: 00:55 So they had to move these families out temporarily, find a place for them so that they could start construction on this permanent housing facility. So these families were moved to Golden Hall yesterday. So they spent their first night at Golden Hall last night and how many homeless people can golden hall accommodate. So they have it set up for up to 150 people and 70 of those are children. That includes infants and toddlers. They have families set up in one large room with bunk beds, men, women and children. So the fathers are able to stay with the family unit. And then there's another room for just single women who don't have children. And so these folks will be living at Golden Hall for the next three months. And then what will happen then while they're at golden hall, they're going to be reconstructing the bridge shelter at a location a few blocks away.

Speaker 1: 01:50 So there's going to be a new site for this bridge structure so that the construction of the building can take place. And you mentioned 70 children there. That makes me wonder if there'll also be social services offered a golden hall. Yes. So they are planning to continue all the services that these people have had at the tent now at Golden Hall. So they will be provided three hot meals a day. They're going to bring the food over from Father Joe's, bring it over to the Golden Hall facility. They're going to have, you know, showers, laundry facilities. And then in addition there's going to be an array of comprehensive services. So there's therapeutic child care, mental health care, other health care, psychiatric care. There's going to be a case manager assigned to every person and employment training and everything that they've had previously. So there, there will be resources there then to help.

Speaker 1: 02:42 That's good net right. Golden Hall is used for all types of events. What kind of prep took place to get the building ready to serve as a, as a temporary homeless shelter? Well, there were quite a few preparations. So first, um, they had to have special accommodations so that the people are going to be entering on the second floor stairs and elevators. They had to line up security. Of course they are, you know, they moved all the beds over and all the resources and accommodations. They're building a patio area for the children. They're going to kind of make it into a play area with turf grass. They're going to set that up also as a patio area for people to eat their meals and they had to secure the stairwells, make sure that, you know, there were no, I'm dangerous to children, um, areas where they could get injured and that sort of thing.

Speaker 1: 03:30 So yesterday, basically early in the morning, the families got up, they packed up their things and they started moving the beds over and then the families were going to be bused over later in the day. So it sounds like a good amount of resources and thought go into this. Um, do you have a sense of whether the bridge shelters are actually working? I mean, are they helping people move off of the streets? They are. And, and while these people are at Golden Hall, they'll continue to try to get people into permanent housing. Um, Deacon Jim Vargas yesterday said they've had 35% of families move into permanent housing. But then, you know, there's a constant cycle of people moving into the tents and he says there are approximately 200 people on a list to get into his shelters. Um, that's grown from a year ago when I talked to him and there were a hundred people.

Speaker 1: 04:16 So the problem doesn't seem to be getting too much better. The list, you know, isn't shrinking for sure. Uh, they also mentioned there's 50 to a hundred families per night still including children sleeping on the streets of San Diego County. Um, you, they said it's heartbreaking there. That's why it's essential to get as much permanent housing as possible. And as you know, homeless advocates of continuously floated Golden Hall is assigned for a homeless shelter. Are there any plans to keep golden hall as a homeless shelter? Definitely. Well, I know that there are talks underway. There's nothing set. Definitely. Um, it will be interesting to see, you know, the result of this, they're going to be living next door to city leaders who in their high rise buildings in their conference halls are working to combat this fourth largest homeless crisis in the nation. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Susan Murphy. Susan, thank you. Thank you, jade.