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San Diego Convention Center opens as temporary homeless shelter during pandemic

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Posted at 11:07 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 15:52:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Convention Center opened its doors Wednesday as a temporary shelter for homeless individuals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting with groups from San Diego's bridge shelters, the center will house homeless individuals to help protect them from the coronavirus and continue providing them shelter.

The plan is to move in 400 people Wednesday. Eventually, the convention center will house 1,500 people.

RELATED: San Diego converts Golden Hall into homeless shelter, prepares for 'storm' of COVID-19

The effort helps the city enforce the CDC's social distancing policy, giving individuals more room to remain six feet apart amid the global outbreak. The move also helps centralize limited shelter staff.

"This convention center space will help us spread out our shelter beds, be more efficient with staffing, and protect parts of the population that are most susceptible to the coronavirus," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday.

The center will offer the same services as bridge shelters, including security, food, showers, restrooms, laundry services, ADA accessibility, WiFi access, and health screenings.

RELATED: As coronavirus concerns swirl, task force looks out for San Diego's homeless

The convention center is also being used as a pathway to housing services as well, Faulconer said.

The convention center is only the first action as part of a larger plan to support a broader approach to addressing homelessness around the city during the pandemic, according to the city. Golden Hall has already welcomed nearly 100 people from bridge shelters.

"For countless San Diegans, this has been the site of naturalization ceremonies, allowing them to start their new lives,'' Faulconer said last month. "Now it will be a place where homeless San Diegans can receive services that might save their lives.''

Families that were already staying at Golden Hall have been moved to motel rooms for the duration of the shelter.

The county's nine bridge homeless shelters with public nurses will convert to screening and triage centers during the pandemic.