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Quality of Life

San Diego County’s homeless sleeping cabins need service providers and land to operate

The county of San Diego has about 100 new tiny cabins ready to house the unsheltered population in the region.

“It's incredibly cost-efficient,” County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said. "One of the ones behind me is just about $19,000 per unit."

She toured two model Pallet shelters in front of the San Diego County Administration Building Friday morning.

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Lawson-Remer said $1.5 million had been set aside to purchase, deliver and assemble these sleeping cabins on-site.

The inside of a Pallet sleeping cabin is shown, Feb. 2, 2024.
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
The inside of a Pallet sleeping cabin is shown on Feb. 2, 2024.

Now, she said, the job is to find those sites and the qualified homeless service providers.

“We got the homes here, we got the funding. And we're just looking for the community partners who can step up and run some shelters,” Lawson-Remer said.

Most cabins sleep one to two people, but some can fit up to four. They have storage space, a locking door and charging outlets — and some even have a bathroom.

“These are products that set up in an hour on-site,” Pallet CEO Amy King said. "We can set them up literally anywhere. You don't have to pour foundations. You don't have to do a bunch of construction work."

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Local leaders gather outside of the a few model Pallet shelters, Feb. 2, 2024.
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Local leaders gather outside of model Pallet shelters on Feb. 2, 2024.

She said the idea was to set them up in a villagelike fashion.

“We want people to use the products temporarily for three, six months, a year — whatever they need. Get stabilized, get working with service providers, build the community relationships they need to succeed and then move on to permanent housing,” King said.

Pastor Shane O’Garro and his Church of Salvation do regular homeless outreach in San Diego County.

“We have safe sleeping sites, we have safe parking, but something where somebody can actually get covered in — it brings the strain down on the shelters, as well,” he said about the Pallet shelters.

The inside of a Pallet sleeping cabin is shown, Feb. 2, 2024.
Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
The inside of a Pallet sleeping cabin is shown on Feb. 2, 2024.

O’Garro said a roof and four walls could make a world of a difference for people otherwise living in cars or on the street.

He said this type of shelter also provided a sense of safety that congregate shelters often lack.

“You just have that sense of privacy and that sense of dignity because now it sets you on the way to go back into your own place. It's kind of like a stepping stone,” O’Garro said.

Any organization that wants to use the Pallet shelters will have to cover the cost of the operations.

Lawson-Remer said that next week she’ll introduce a policy to make county-owned land available for emergency homeless shelter solutions. That could include space for the Pallet shelters.

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