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First Of Three Temporary Homeless Shelters Opens In Downtown San Diego

Matt Hoffman / KPBS
An inside view of the homeless tent shelter at 16th Street and Newton Avenue in downtown San Diego, Dec. 1, 2017.

A new shelter for people who are homeless, the first of three new tents, opened in downtown on Friday.

It is operated by the nonprofit Alpha Project and is meant to serve as a gateway to permanent housing.

Two additional tent shelters, currently under construction, will be managed by Father Joe's Villages and Veterans Village of San Diego.


Located at 16th Street and Newton Avenue, this shelter is meant to act as transitional housing for up to 350 men and women.

"It’s a place just to detox from survival mode, into being a human-being mode," Alpha Project CEO Bob McElroy said.

The city of San Diego helped secure more than $6.5 million in permanent housing funding from the San Diego Housing Commission to make the project possible. With the funding, this shelter and the others will be open for at least seven months.

First Of Three Temporary Homeless Shelters Opens In Downtown San Diego

RELATED: Housing Commission Votes To Move $6.5M In Funding Away From Permanent Housing


"The goal here is folks that may be homeless today, may not be homeless next week," McElroy said.

Around 25 women moved in Friday, and organizers expect to have up to 350 people by next week.

"Those people who have been out there the longest, the most infirm, the most at risk will have the first shot of being in here,” McElroy said.

People from the tent city campground in Golden Hill will be the first to move in here. Terrie Woolever was the first person lined up Friday to get inside the new shelter.

"I’ve been doing really good," Woolever said. "Cleaning, helping out, with Alpha Project."

Woolever said she has been homeless 1 1/2 years and is looking forward to going from here, to her own apartment.

“Lucky. Very lucky to get a second chance," said Woolever. "I’m going to do everything I can to do right and follow all the rules.”

Alpha Project said they have 45 caseworkers who will spend time with each person at the shelter. People can stay here for up to 120 days; and if they are not out of the shelter by then, their situation will be re-evaluated.

First Of Three Temporary Homeless Shelters Opens In Downtown San Diego
The shelter, run by the nonprofit Alpha Project, will house up to 350 homeless men and women each night.