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City provides inside look at new safe sleeping site for the first time

A look at San Diego's new safe sleeping site
Posted at 9:39 PM, Aug 08, 2023

SAN DIEGO — Walking into the City of San Diego's new safe sleeping site, you can hear music playing and dogs howling at sirens in the distance.

The asphalt parking lot near Balboa Park is now a place where more than 100 homeless people are staying. Some of them have even put flowers in front of their tents, or doormats reading "Welcome home."

Tina Smith spent three months living down by the riverbed before coming to the safe sleeping site that opened in July.

"You never know what you're going to get, or find, or somebody is going to come approach you, or attack you, or who knows what. Here, that weight is off your shoulders," said Smith after a tour of the site on Tuesday morning.

However, when the site initially opened some people trying to access it were confused by the entrance off of 26th Street.

"It's not a bad place, just be prepared to have to walk to get somewhere," said Bill Mulligan, who came to the site within the first several day it opened and interviewed with ABC 10News over one month ago about his experience.

There is now a shuttle making trips every hour from the safe sleeping site to downtown, as well as NAMI.

Showers are accessible every several days.

The site is equipped with water filling stations, sinks where people can wash their clothes, awnings for shade, and meals are provided daily.

"Our shelter spaces are limited and people want help so we want to make sure that we can address those who are wanting that help and are ready for that help," said Teresa Smith, the CEO of Dreams for Change, the nonprofit overseeing the site.

Smith says there is a waiting list roughly 80 people long to get into the site.

People hoping to come need a referal.