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Father Joe Carroll, champion for San Diego's homeless, dies at 80

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Posted at 10:50 AM, Jul 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 01:14:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Father Joe Carroll, who spent decades helping the homeless in San Diego, has died at the age of 80, according to Father Joe's Villages.

“Though I am personally saddened at Father Joe Carroll’s passing, I fondly remember the stories and laughs that we shared, and his legacy will live on in all that we do,” Deacon Jim Vargas, President and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages said. “Father Joe selflessly and tirelessly served our community for over three decades. We celebrate his lifetime of service.”

Following the news the Regional Task Force on the Homeless issued the following statement:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of San Diego’s most ardent advocates for vulnerable people. In his three decades devoted to helping people without homes, Father Joe Carroll’s approach centered on the dignity of the individual, going beyond emergency shelter with services like health care, vocational training and finding a path to stable permanent housing. His unrelenting determination, coupled with his charm and compassion, leave an unmatched legacy.

RELATED: Local leaders react to the passing of Father Joe Carroll

Carroll got involved with the homeless in San Diego in 1982. "The bishop called me in his office told me, the next day he's going to appoint me head of St. Vincent de Paul and my job was to build a shelter,” Carroll told 10News in 2019.

Despite politely trying to turn down the task, Carroll rose to the occasion, traveling the country researching homeless service providers, according to Father Joe’s Villages. Uninspired by what he saw, Carroll went on a mission to create an entirely new one-stop approach to provide services for the homeless.

“In 1987, only 5 short years after taking the helm, Father Joe expanded his ministry from handing out peanut butter sandwiches to people on the streets to the opening of a $12 million facility known as the Joan Kroc Center,” the organization says.

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The center offered housing for families and single adults, a medical clinic, childcare, meals, and job training.

The center was later followed by the Bishop Maher Center in 1989 and the Paul Mirabile Center in 1994.

Carroll retired in 2011, but continued to help the community.

Over the decades, Father Joe’s Villages has grown to include a comprehensive campus and scattered-site program.

Father Joe’s currently houses more than 2,000 people nightly.