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San Diego's 'Bridge Shelters' To Remain Open Through June 2020

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San Diego City Council members Tuesday approved a 12-month extension to the city's three "bridge shelters," which Mayor Kevin Faulconer has made a key component of his strategy to address homelessness.

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Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS midday day edition. I'm Alison Saint John and I'm jade Hindman. The San Diego City Council voted yesterday to continue funding the city's ThreeBridge shelters for those who are homeless. But funding for the shelters is only guaranteed through June of 2020. The council's vote also included keeping the shelter operated by Father Joe's and Golden Hall instead of moving it as was planned. Bill both stad chief revenue officer at Father Joe's joins us to discuss the organization's reaction to yesterday's vote. Welcome bill. Thank you. The funding for the bridge shelters is guaranteed through June, 2020 but after that, it's unknown where the funding for the shelters will come from. His father. Joe's worried

Speaker 2: 00:42 at this point? No, we're not of what was most important to us was that the funding continued and allow these programs to continue. So we're thrilled that we get to go for another 12 months and we hope and we're competent. The city and the housing commission. We'll find a way to continue beyond that.

Speaker 1: 00:56 Of the 4,000 people who have stayed at the bridge shelters, 300 had been moved to permanent housing. Um, what are the challenges, shelters like yours face in moving people into permanent housing?

Speaker 2: 01:06 The challenges that we have in trying to get people into permanent housing or many, you know, when we try to solve homelessness for folks, we have to remember that each person's situation is different and that the solutions are different. So it can be everything from situational, getting them employment. But the biggest challenge we have is finding them housing. And here in San Diego County housing is in short supply, especially for folks that have been on the streets. So that's our main challenge.

Speaker 1: 01:27 Father Joe's operates the shelter that is currently at Golden Hall but was expected to be moved to 17th and imperial. But yesterday's vote included the counsel's desire to keep the shelter at Golden Hall. Was that a surprise to your organization?

Speaker 2: 01:40 It was a surprise. You know, we, uh, we had anticipated moving to that other location. We've been operating in golden hall with the expectation that it would be a short term solution while we made this maneuver. Um, but you know, at the end of the day we're thrilled because the action the city council took afterwards laid the groundwork for fourth shelter down at that same location at 17 in imperial. And this is really where we feel like it's most important. There are thousands of people on the street on any given night and they have nowhere to go. So adding additional is absolutely the right move.

Speaker 1: 02:08 Council woman, Vivian Mareno said during yesterday's council meeting that the location where you plan to reopen the bridge shelter is rife with illicit activities, unfit for the women and families. The shelter is meant to house. What's father Joe's response to that?

Speaker 2: 02:21 You know, our number one focus for anybody is to make sure that we keep kids and families safe. We would never have offered to operate in that location if we didn't feel we could keep it safe. We've been operating down there for 37 years and quite frankly the prior location for the bridge shelter was only a stone's throw from there. So we felt fully confident that we could keep them safe and we're happy to see another shelter potentially operate there.

Speaker 1: 02:40 Father Joe's position is that the 17th and imperial location is closer to its existing services. Talk to us about that.

Speaker 2: 02:47 Absolutely. So we have been operating a campus of services down there, uh, for 37 years. Uh, the services include everything from therapeutic childcare to our federally Qualified Health Center, a job placement programs, mental health and addiction programs. Proximity to those services is, is critical for a number of our clients. Uh, the location at 17 and imperial is an ideal location because it is literally next door to those services. And do you have a sense of what the home was staying in Golden Hall want? You know, it depends. When you say the homeless staying and Golden Hall, we have 130 to 140 people living there on any given night. And so it depends on who you ask. Some of them would prefer to stay is what we heard yesterday at the city co at City Hall. And then we have others that, uh, are not coming into the shelter because they would prefer to be located down by the services. Do you have a meeting with the city plan to discuss whether or not it wants to open a fourth bridge shelter at the 17th and Imperial Avenue Location? Well, the vote yesterday indicates to me that they are laying the groundwork to do that and we look forward to working with the city and the housing commission, do whatever we can to help them in that effort. I have been speaking to bill both stad chief revenue officer at Father Joseph villages. Bill, thank you. Thank you.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.