Midway homeless shelter opens, begins to gradually accept new residents
A homeless shelter in San Diego's Midway district is officially open and accepting new residents.
The shelter is a partnership between the City of San Diego and San Diego County.
Homeless service provider Alpha Project has been selected to operate the 150-bed facility. The nonprofit also runs three other shelters in the city of San Diego, but this is the first large one outside of the downtown core.
"It’s opening day so there’s going to be a lot of hustle and bustle," said Alpha Project Outreach Specialist Robert McKinney.
McKinney is just one of the Alpha Project's multiple outreach teams. The teams have been out in the Midway area, signing people up to stay in the new shelter. McKinney said not everyone on the streets is interested in temporary shelters. Some would rather wait to get a housing placement.
"They may not want it today, but you never know about next week," McKinney said. "I let them know it’s no pressure. They have to want it themselves."
The new shelter is for both men and women and has onsite mental health services. Its 150 beds will not all be filled right away. On the shelter’s first day of operation, just 15 residents were allowed in and that means a few of McKinney’s clients have to wait a little longer.
KPBS was there when he broke the news to a woman named Sandy who was due to be at the shelter today.
"Here’s the deal — it’s kind of bad news and good news as well," McKinney told her. "They only allowed us to bring 15 people in today, but that means tomorrow you’ll be the first one in."
McKinney was able to provide Sandy with some food she requested. He said it is never easy to tell people no, even if it is only temporary.
"It’s disappointing not letting them know that we weren’t able to provide that service for them, like taking them to the top of the hill just like kicking them off and that experience man it hurts, it's heartfelt," McKinney said. "But we also want to let them know at the same time we’re still here for you, it may not be today, but tomorrow we make sure we try out best."
The Midway shelter is accepting pets and couples.
McKinney has not been homeless himself, but when he was younger, he said he lived couch to couch for a time.
"Sometimes I see people months and months and years later and they’re like, 'Alpha Project saved my life,' Just hearing that is good enough for me. I don't come to work to get a pat on the back or anything like that, I'm actually happy doing my job."
The shelter will be able to take in people 24 hours a day, pending bed availability, once it is fully operational.
The shelter expects to bring in 15 residents per day until capacity is reached.
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