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Quality of Life

San Diego Asking For Proposals For Permanent Homeless Shelter

The tent on 16th Street and Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan currently shelters homeless adults and veterans, Dec. 2, 2014.
Katie Schoolov
The tent on 16th Street and Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan currently shelters homeless adults and veterans, Dec. 2, 2014.

The city of San Diego is looking for a permanent building to house the homeless so it can do away with temporary facilities in Barrio Logan and the Midway District, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other officials announced Tuesday.

"Today, we are announcing an initiative that will provide more effective, compassionate care for homeless individuals and veterans to solve a problem that has (plagued) our communities for far too long," Faulconer said.

The city currently offers tents for homeless adults and veterans during the cold weather months.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we shouldn't have to shelter people in outdoor tents when it's raining outside," Faulconer said.

Richard Gentry, CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission, said his agency is asking organizations to submit proposals to operate a permanent facility with at least 350 beds, social services and 24-hour staffing. Forty percent of the beds would be reserved for veterans.

While it isn't clear whether existing buildings are available, or whether organizations would be interesting in operating a year-round shelter, a meeting with prospective providers is set for Dec. 16, and the proposals will be due Jan. 13, he said.

The commission hopes to select an operator in February and open the facility as soon as July 1 — the beginning of the city's fiscal year, Gentry said. The commission runs programs for the homeless for the city.

Councilman David Alvarez, who has opposed the location of the Barrio Logan tent at 16th Street and Newton Avenue, said he supports the plan because the operator of a permanent facility would likely work better with the community. Residents near the tent have complained in the past about public drunkenness, trash and other problems.

"The approach is changing, and that's a good thing, especially for the community," Alvarez said. "The continued reliance on the 16th and Newton site has become a crutch — an excuse to pretend that putting up a tent in the middle of the street for a couple of months will solve this problem" of homelessness.

Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria have been trying to change the way San Diego deals with its homeless problem by trying to get people into housing that offers social services — so the root cause of why someone is homeless can be addressed.

Gloria said that, in the past, he would see the same faces at the winter shelter every year. The new approach is designed to get the chronically homeless back on their feet, he said.

A permanent homeless shelter opened in downtown San Diego last year. But that shelter, located in the old World Trade Center building, doesn't meet the needs of the city's homeless population.

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