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City Unveils Plans To Shelter Homeless During Winter

People lay on beds in the winter shelter in downtown San Diego.
Ana Tintocalis/KPBS News
People lay on beds in the winter shelter in downtown San Diego.
City Unveils Plans To Shelter Homeless During Winter
City Unveils Plans To Shelter Homeless During Winter
GUESTS: Todd Gloria, councilman, San Diego Ruth Bruland, chief program officer, Father Joe's Villages

This is Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The forecast say we are heading into a winter of El Niño storms perhaps stronger than we have seen before. The last almost count balun increase of number of homes people living under sheltered downtown San Diego. That is not a good combination. On Monday city leaders unveiled a plan to provide more shelter in San Diego during cold stormy weather. They say with this plan, San Diego will be providing more shelter beds than in previous years. But some homeless advocates are concerned that it is not the kind of shelter the homeless will be able to use weird joining these San Diego Todd Gloria, with Mayor Faulconer announced the emergency shelter plan yesterday. And Todd Gloria, welcome to the show. Look into the show. Ruth thank you for coming in. Todd, I know that yesterday's news conference given update on the progress of the city's new year-round homeless shelter. Can I ask you first, specifically, what is the emergency shelter plan? We announced yesterday is a recognition of all the scientists are telling us, this winter is going to be a doozy. And as you see there city prepare for that with our store mortar crews clearing out channels and trying to do rings and make sure that property and communities are protected, we have to take care the most bottle which our homeless. What our housing communication will do with father Joe's announced yesterday that we will have the capacity to do basically 250 Kotz in a dining hall. To provide search ability. Should storms come that we are expecting. I can fully expect additional folks will come forward within the weeks ahead to make similar commitments. But we are getting it started and we are telling San Diego as we will be prepared for inclement weather and the folks are most vulnerable will be taken care of their and this was presented as providing more shelter beds, in the city of San Diego then we have had with the one. That is the other good news. This is in addition to the inclement weather plan. What we have done a number of years ago, and you have been kind to have me in years past around and Thanksgiving, visual of homeless people spilling into a tent taking up a cop. What we know Marine, that is not best practice and is that the solving problems. It is a great solution during the weather, but it's a 16 recommitment. But we did earlier this year working with Father Joe's Villages having guy year-round interim, housing shelter. And that is indoors, year-round. And the early returns are good. Just tell you, the number of people who were able to serve under the tent system was about 1200. With this approach it is 2700 individuals. We see cost per bed with attack, $29 a night, now it's $13 with the year-round indoor facility. Most poorly for your listeners, we want to do is solve problems that put Band-Aids on it. It is about 100% improvement of 26% who stayed at the tampon in their way to longer-term housing to over 50% -- 52% are finding their way to longer-term housing this is good news, is a better use of resources and it helps to solve the problem, in addition to our inclement weather plan. So Ruth got does that mean that 52%, or thereabouts of the people who were in the shelter at San disco in July, were no longer there, they have transitioned into supportive housing? Is not as simple as that cop a 50 Is not as simple as that cop a 52% common to the program cost him stay longer than others, some state 10 days. It depends on their situation and how complicated it is to get the two things that they need not to be homeless, in common that housing. And other housing advocates have told me there is a problem finding of affordable housing for the homeless to transition into. Do you find that to be the case? Yes it is tremendously calendaring third so what have you been doing? We worked very closely with landlords and concentrating on building those relationships. So when we have clients that are ready to move into a place, before they even start as clients, we have been talking to the landlord telling him this article things they are doing to help you pay Brown a regular basis. This is not a huge risk for you, this is like any other tenant that is coming your way. Todd Gloria, the sad irony about this, the city transitioned to providing permanent housing supportive housing, trying to find that for the city's homeless population by starting the collaboration, but at the same time the homeless count and the number of people living on the streets, downtown San Diego is up about 26% according to a survey. What can we attribute that to? In this day and age we look for simple answers. As Ruth said, there are no simple solutions to this problem. My personal point of view, I am the chair of regional care countywide effort. I say three things come to mind initially appeared stagnant wages with increasing cost of living, folks that are not mentally ill or substance abuses are finding themselves in homeless as they cannot make ends meet. The end of redevelopment by the state was pretty detrimental, primary funding source for creation of affordable housing and supportive housing. That has been for a few years now. Our pipeline is starting to dry up and then lastly, the voters approval of proposition 47 is also having a Dutch mental effect in terms of our headcount on the street heard you remember the time when we put people with illnesses into institutions, and those were closed down several decades ago, frankly those folks transition. Now we are in the process to take in the matter prison and we are at a fork in the road, handling it correctly, knowing that is cheaper and more effective, or we can choose to do nothing and they will be on the streets. A lot of things happening, stagnant wages, and a host of other things, conspiring to say despite all the work that we are doing, wonderful collaboration smart approaches that we see, in overall headcount from last you to the share. But I will tell you that it is down from the year before the we are not all-time high. Just to get our number straight, the Cal bound about 800 unsheltered, homeless people living on the streets of San Diego. With the emergency plan that you have come up with with the housing, we are ready had, we have about 600 beds available at night. That is still a deficit about 200. Is actually worse than that, we have about 4000 sheltered people every night, County wise. Downtown, it is not that severe obviously, there is a concentration downtown cop but throughout the county, there are thousands and thousands every night. Okay to provide extra beds for extreme cold weather, is really certified not the one third you have done it last year. We have done in the past, it stretches our resources, we typically limited it to one dining room. Because of the extraordinary circumstance of El Niño, we are planning to open both dining rooms and then the city has allowed us to also open Neil good at night, which typically is not used for that facility. We are working with volunteers and have pretty fast volunteer group. This is a special thing to reach out to people trying to make them feel comfortable within a time where their lives are at risk. To have a group of volunteers that will be willing to help with this, if they want to go to our website, or call us, we would love to have additional support for this. Okay, that is good to know. How will this actually work and when with the beds be available? We have a criteria that we use, and we try to do it as scientifically as possible. When the temperature goes under 50degrees in San Diego, and when there is a chance up 30% rain, then we believe that we are at good risk for people experiencing hypothermia, even in San Diego. In that point we set things in motion. Sometimes the rain does not happen, sometimes it does. Frequently the homeless population, they are watching as much as we are as they know it is risky. And as I understand, this is a facility, the beds and cafeteria, would be available from about 6 PM to about 5 AM in the morning. And then the people have to leave? Correct, we have to restart back to a dining room. Those are the two dining rooms that serve the people that live with us full-time. So when they, six Clark a.m. we provide an evening meal before they go out in the morning, we provide them some breakfast, then showers, clothing to try and make the next a little bit better. Will you be accepting people who might show up under the influence? Yes, it is part of the deal. Now Todd Gloria, one express that we have spoken to is that this type of shelter is not practical for the way that homeless people actually live on the streets. They will not be willing to travel from whatever makeshift our encampment that they have, they will not be up to take any of their stuff, they will get afraid it will be stolen. And they will have to go to the shelter, spend the night and then find some way to go in the daytime, the weather cold or rainy, they will have to go out without their stuff. You see that as a problem? I get those concerns and I know exactly what you are referring to people people are living camped out on the peaches. This is about saving lives Marine. This is about understanding if we are listening to scientists, and I tend to listen to them, they are predicting a 95% chance of a winter that we have not seen in a long time. And the difference between someone's belongings getting lost in losing their lives, it is a no-brainer for the city. This is the right thing to do and I deeply grateful for Father Joe's Villages . And I hope others will do the same as well as this is not enough for everyone. But it is enough to provide people choices. I do not want anyone out there in fear of their life do not have a way to protect themselves. They may have to make a tough decision about their belongings. But the truth is, reading, the folks living on the street because of the weather system or making tough decisions ever did get by. This is just an effort to get make sure they stay safe. And we as a city with up to our values. We are the America's finest city and we will do except that was said. It will be convenient, and pack services but they are not complaining. And I do not think anyone who does not have a roof over their head, that they have one. The question is not really between doing this and doing nothing, but considering the extraordinary circumstances that we are facing now in the forecast, why would the city set up the tents again for this extraordinary rain event that we are anticipating? Well, that would presume that we are not providing a level of service. An indoor facility that we have days now year-round. They are not supposed us stay there forever, but is permanent/year-round. We have had a number of people come down to City Hall, who are quite frankly looking for the photo op again for that angst given day opening of the tent. But warming, there are homeless people in April, in May, June July and in this year for the first time ever. We have been serving those people. They been coming in the door around Easter and were told we will see you around skipping that can happen this year. They transfer to Father Joe's Villages , and they have been served at the Maribel. Just yesterday, he was attending resident, he now lives at the herbal center, he found a job and working his way toward stability. That would not have happened if he did not have that bed. So we are provided in enhanced level of service and I am proud of the effort the city has been done. We have done more to me ever done on this issue. The headcount is up, the circumstances are with they are, we have a lot more work to do. I will do this one more time Todd Gloria, I guess considering the extraordinary circumstance we find ourselves in, because of what has been court because of what Has Been Court, Godzilla El Niño. Is it a question of cost not putting up the tents for one more year? Is it a political problem? Is a practical problem of part of the disposition which was then months and months ago, was to sell the man to take the money and put it through the work of solving homelessness. A practical consideration, but a sense that we're serving many more people. The tent, again would have served roughly 1200 individuals, with our current is 2700. We can do all those do more. A part of my job is to push like mad to get more resources. We have been successful in doing so. But the solution is not tent using the governor of Virginia, salt lake city and Utah declared homelessness. They are not doing with tents, they are doing it with year-round permanent support I only have one moment, San Diego was recently bumped up to fourth place in the ink rankings of the largest homeless population do you think this program that the city is sponsoring to bring the population homeless population down? We know we will do better than tents were able to do, not through their fault at all. It is a different type of resource attached to the program. We know we will bring that percentage down. There are some in other factors involved. We will bust our chops to do it. But lots of other things have to do the same in order for us to really get and want to be at function zero with the homeless population. That is our goal. And a number of things need to happen. Todd Gloria, the mayor. I want to thank you both very much. Todd Gloria and Ruth Berlin chief officer Father Joe's Villages . Thank you very much.

The winter tent shelters in Barrio Logan and Midway District are a thing of the past, but San Diego officials said Monday the city is making arrangements to shelter 250 homeless people during the coldest nights of the upcoming winter.

When extremely cold weather hits, 200 transients will be brought indoors to the dining room at Father Joe's Villages, while another 50 will be put up at the Neil Good Day Center, a city-funded facility where the homeless can wash up, charge phones and handle other needs.

The plans were unveiled as Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilman Todd Gloria and Father Joe's said more homeless are being helped through an indoor housing program that launched in April than before.

Those tents housed more than 300 single homeless adults and veterans nightly from November through March. Since most tent residents came and went, more than 1,100 total were served in the tents last winter, according to the San Diego Housing Commission.

The city is on pace to help more than 2,700 homeless under the indoor housing program, which is funded by the city and operated by Father Joe's Villages at its Paul Mirabile Center.

"Everyone deserves a roof over their head and the opportunity for a better life, and that's what we're providing now on a year-round basis," Faulconer said.

"These successes are a direct result of the city's new strategy of focusing on programs that actually end the cycle of homelessness," the mayor said. "We're helping more homeless individuals than ever before, evidence that this new approach is a game-changer."

City officials said 52 percent of those who enter the program at Father Joe's are moving into permanent housing, twice the rate as in the tents. The cost to the city per bed has also lowered, from $29.10 to $13.78, compared to the temporary tents.

"As seen through the interim housing program and the inclement weather plan, we are making significant progress working collaboratively as a community to address the immediate needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, while supporting long-term solutions to permanently end the cycle of homelessness," Gloria said.

The program provides 350 beds per night for the homeless, with up to 40 percent set aside for veterans. The facility also provides three meals each day, 24-hour residential and security service and supportive programs to stabilize lives.