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Group Proposing Homeless Facility in Point Loma Faces Hurdles

The U.S. Postal Service is putting its Midway Distribution Center up for sale. A new nonprofit has submitted a proposal to turn the Loma Portal site into transitional housing for the homeless.

The year-old nonprofit Amikas is trying to gain the support of Loma Portal residents and business owners for their project. It is one of several proposals from bidders seeking to take over the postal facility.

Former congressional candidate Jeeni Criscenzo is one of the group’s co-founders. She said the facility’s residents would grow their own food and do some of the work to convert the existing buildings.

“What you do is – those people that are on the streets right now that are skilled carpenters and plumbers and electricians and people that can learn those skills – is have them create their own community and that’s a whole lot different than a homeless shelter,” Criscenzo said.

She added the group would plan to house up to 2,000 people at the site. But, the proposal faces several obstacles. The group has not previously run housing facilities or provided services to the homeless and they have yet to secure funding for the project.

Another transitional housing and homeless services facility at the World Trade Center recently got the approval of the city’s land use and housing committee. Councilman Todd Gloria chairs that committee. He said the Amikas proposal may simply be unrealistic.

“Doing something on the order of the World Trade Center, which is 225 beds, is a stretch for recognized organizations that have long track records of serving a vulnerable population," he said. "I think taking on something that is the size that is suggested for the Postal Service site by a new organization would require more due diligence on the city’s part to see whether or not that could be feasible.”

The Postal Service is accepting proposals from interested buyers until August 19.