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San Diego’s Third Bridge Shelter Set To Open This Week

Photo by Guillermo Sevilla

A large industrial tent is being prepared to house homeless families behind Father Joe's Villages in San Diego's East Village on Jan 2, 2018.

The city of San Diego is expected to open the last of three bridge shelters for homeless people this week. The large industrial tent, located in the East Village, will provide 150 beds for families and single women for the next seven months.

On Tuesday, construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the big gray dome set in a gated parking lot behind Father Joe's Villages. More than 40 workers have been hired to run the tent, supplies have been stocked up and case managers are preparing families for move-in day.

San Diego's Third Bridge Shelter Set To Open This Week

"Our hope is that we can start moving people in by late tomorrow (Wednesday) to early Thursday," said Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe's Villages. "But that’s assuming the fire marshal gives the blessing, everything’s in place and the city then okays it."

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

When the doors open, families will have access to services including meals, health care, counseling and housing navigators. The facility is also equipped with bathrooms, showers, laundry, and 24-hour security. The city is funding $1.3 million to operate the shelter.

Vargas said a tent is not the most ideal home for children, but it’s better than their current situation — some are sleeping on park benches or in a car. He said the goal is to cycle families into more stable housing as soon as possible.

"But that is at the heart of the issue, is those permanent dwellings. We just don’t have enough. We don’t have enough affordable housing," Vargas said.

RELATED: Homeless Campground In San Diego Providing Lifeline For 40 Children

Altogether, the three bridge shelters will provide beds for 700 people. Vargas said Father Joe’s waiting lists for its other temporary shelters are 200 names long. He said the homeless crisis didn’t see much improvement in 2017.

"I would love to say that it looks better. It doesn’t look better. And that’s what we’re seeing come across our doorways and our threshold in a sense. We see a lot of need," he said.

Vargas said Father Joe's Villages hopes to fill some of that need in 2019, with plans to break ground for a 14-story building on the bridge shelter site. That building is expected to offer 400 permanent housing units.

The city of San Diego is expected to open the last of three bridge shelters for homeless people this week. The large industrial tent, located in the East Village, will provide 150 beds for families and single women for the next seven months.

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