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Homeless Advocates Support Using Golden Hall As Temporary Shelter

Deacon Jim Vargas, president of Father Joe's Villages, walks through rows of ...

Photo by Christopher Maue

Above: Deacon Jim Vargas, president of Father Joe's Villages, walks through rows of bunk beds inside a large dome tent in San Diego’s East Village, Jan. 4, 2017.

Homeless advocates are applauding a decision by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to use a city facility to temporarily keep people off the streets.

In April, Father Joe's Villages will begin moving people from its tent shelter on Commercial Street to Golden Hall.

The plan is to use the second floor of the old convention center. There are a number of rooms that will soon be fitted with bunk beds. Father Joe's officials said all 150 people staying at its downtown shelter will be able to move into Golden Hall. The idea is to stay there for around three months while its tent shelter is relocated.

"It’s a place for people to regain their sanity," said Alpha Project CEO Bob McElroy. "Regain their humanity."

Bob McElroy runs the Alpha Project tent shelter downtown and said he is glad the city is offering Golden Hall as a temporary solution.

"We can’t wait to build permanent supportive housing," McElroy said. "That’s beautiful — that's one part of the big picture. It's not the whole picture, that’s one part, but it’s going to take billions and decades to build — but what are we going to do in the meantime?"

RELATED: Effort Underway In Hillcrest To Connect More Homeless To Services, Housing

Funding for both Father Joe’s tent shelter and the one run by the Alpha Project is set to end in June — but the San Diego Housing Commission is recommending keeping the shelters open past that.

"Just for our bridge shelter there are 270 plus people who have already moved into housing," McElroy said. "People going to school people working every day, what are you going to do go backward? You going to dump all those people back on the street — I mean that’s a no-brainer man. That’d be just ultimate stupidity."

San Diego Padres General Partner Peter Seidler and the Lucky Duck Foundation helped build the tent shelters which the community was originally opposed to.

"The cost of doing nothing is huge," Seidler said.

Seidler wants more involvement from the private sector to help tackle homelessness.

"I think what we can do in the private community are a lot of things," he said. "We can help with the analysis and make sure it’s based in facts, we can push the politicians to do the right thing to have the political will."

Father Joe's officials said moving its shelter to Golden Hall is just a temporary solution and there has not been any discussion about using the location on a permanent basis.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Father Joe's Villages will use Golden Hall for three months to house people who are homeless.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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