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San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announces plan to convert warehouse into 1,000-bed homeless shelter

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Posted at 10:55 AM, Apr 04, 2024

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Todd Gloria announced a plan Thursday to create San Diego's largest long-term shelter for people experiencing homelessness, with capacity for more than 1,000 people.

"We have been acting with urgency to bring people into safety from encampments on our streets and sidewalks, rivers and canyons," he said. "We now have a historic and monumental opportunity to get more than 1,000 people off the streets and connected with the services needed to end their homelessness.

"Substantially increasing our shelter capacity will have an immediate impact as we work on the other aspects of our comprehensive approach to ending homelessness, including prevention and the creation of affordable housing," he said.

Gloria's plan, if approved by the City Council, would convert a warehouse located at the intersection of Kettner Boulevard and Vine Street north of downtown into a shelter. The site would provide on-site security, meals, housing navigation and case management services. Improvements will include adding showers and additional restrooms, a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities and dining and recreation areas, a statement from Gloria's office reads.

Larry Turner, Gloria's opponent in the November Mayoral Election, said the idea to move the proposed shelter from H Barracks at Liberty Station to an industrial area on Kettner Boulevard has been done without community input and sets an "alarming precedent."

"San Diegans deserve a mayor who prioritizes transparency and engages with communities in decisions that impact their lives," Turner said. "The lack of community input in this decision is unacceptable. We need to ensure that any proposal to address homelessness is not only effective but also respects the concerns and needs of residents."

Staff from the city's Economic Development and Homelessness Strategies and Solutions departments will present the shelter proposal to the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee on April 18.

According to Gloria, the owner of the Kettner and Vine facility has agreed to lease the nearly 65,000-square-foot warehouse property for 35 years, with two five-year renewal options. The building improvements and shelter operations will be funded through a combination of local, state and federal funds, along with contributions from local donors.

"The planned size and floorplan of the Kettner and Vine facility give the city flexibility to potentially serve multiple populations -- including families, youth and single women or men," said Sarah Jarman, director of the city's Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department. "The long-term lease also enables the city to upgrade the facility based on the changing needs of unsheltered residents.

"This shelter would operate similarly to others, with the ultimate goal of connecting San Diegans experiencing homelessness to permanent housing," Jarman said.

If approved, Kettner and Vine will be the 11th new overnight facility serving people experiencing homelessness the city has opened since Gloria took office.

As a part of the announcement Thursday morning, Gloria also provided an update on the city's plan for the H Barracks site near the San Diego International Airport.

If the City Council approves the Kettner and Vine facility, Gloria said the city would then focus efforts at H Barracks primarily on expanding its Safe Parking Program for unhoused San Diegans who are temporarily residing in their vehicles.

"Additional safe parking is a need that's especially evident in the Peninsula area and other coastal communities, where numerous oversized vehicles park along streets in commercial and industrial areas," a statement from Gloria's office read.

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