Downtown Day Center For Homeless May Close

Grant Application Denied For Neil Good Day Center In East Village

A homeless day center in downtown San Diego may be forced to shut down, which may send hundreds of homeless San Diegans back to the streets during the day.

People who are described as "chronically" homeless are able to visit the Neil Good Day Center on 17th Street in East Village every day. For 20 years, the day center has been the one-stop-shop for the city's homeless.

"This is where they can be legally during the day," said Bob McElroy of the Alpha Project, which operates the center.

More than 2,000 homeless receive mail, including Social Security checks at the center. The center's services also include showers, laundry facilities and Internet access.

"This is a vital part of the day-to-day resources that the homeless population can use," said McElroy.

The contract for the center ends on July 1, but it is in danger of closing because it's not on the city's list of programs that will continue receiving grant money. That's because there is less grant money to go around this year.

This year, the city received about $11 million in federal grants for projects in low or moderate income neighborhoods, which is 25 percent less than previous years.

Of that grant money, $2.3 million goes to public services for the homeless and elderly, young and others. City Council received 53 grant applications from programs hoping to get part of the $2.3 million. However, the center's grant application was not one of the 11 that were approved. The center needs $500,000 to operate.

Homeless advocate Dave Ross said, "Well they better get ready because they're going to have a tsunami of people." Ross said adding to that wave of people will be the 400 to 500 who are currently housed in the temporary winter and veterans shelters. Those are scheduled to close at the end of the month.

"[That'll] increase the homeless visible population in the inner city, the East Village and in the Gaslamp area significantly," said Ross.

Ross said they will shuttle the homeless to City Hall on Thursday in hopes of changing the minds of city councilmembers, who will be finalizing their list of recommended programs to receive grant money.

City leaders said the city is already giving $1 million to help turn the old World Trade Center downtown into a one-stop homeless shelter. Homeless advocates said that shelter will not open for another three to four years.

A spokeswoman for San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria said Gloria recently learned of the center's importance. She said the councilman is considering other sources to help keep the center operating.

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