Five groups propose major homeless services center

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 12:33:13-04

Major plans could be in the works to build a massive homeless support center in the city of San Diego, where the number of those living on the streets continues to grow.

Five organizations submitted proposals to the city for what’s called a Support Service Assessment Center, a one-stop shop for the homeless, including permanent places to live. 

The city is still deciding whether to pursue the project, but it could become more pressing with the City Council earlier this week deciding against a special election that could have raised the tourist tax to pay for – among other things – homeless services.

 “It's gotten real bad, again,” said Quarlo McSwain, who spends his days developing relationships with downtown's homeless for the nonprofit Alpha Project.

“I get a reality check everyday,” he said.         

Earlier this year, a survey found more than 5,600 unsheltered homeless people in the region, up 14 percent from last year. Leo Wilson lives across from Balboa Park - where he says incidents with homeless people are rising.  

That’s where the service center could come into play.

Alpha Project is proposing to turn a large city lot at 20th and B in Golden Hill into a major homeless services facility - including 700 permanent homes. Father Joe’s Village, San Diego Youth Services, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, and Path (People assisting the homeless) – also submitted proposals. Each has their own location and strategy.

The city estimates it'll have more than $12 million to help launch a potential project. A city spokesman says a decision on whether to pursue the homeless services center project could come in the next couple of weeks.

McSwain says the time is now.

“I wish I could help each and every last person and get them off the street,” he said.         

Before the number of homeless grows even larger.