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Homeless center in National City works to provide shelter in new way

Homeless encampment
Posted at 4:39 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 20:54:31-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — At South Bay Community Church, two buildings will be transformed into a transition center and officials say it will be a place of rest for unsheltered people to figure out their next steps, and not have them return to the streets.

"I want folks to know I'm not content with this," shared Mayor Todd Gloria on Thursday morning.

He addressed the scene at Sports Arena Boulevard. He shared that more than 3 tons of trash were collected just on Tuesday.

But the issue remains: getting those who are unsheltered off the streets. Mayor Todd Gloria says that remains an ongoing effort. He says the City of San Diego hopes to turn efforts in the Midway District into weekly engagement.

The main goal is to prevent disease outbreaks in the encampment off Sports Arena Boulevard, which is why cleanup resumed Thursday.

Mayor Gloria says in a media conference that this year there are roughly 1,000 supportive housing units currently in the pipeline, and next week, Father Joe's Villages will unveil 400 homes.

He furthered that the city is looking to find hotels and apartment properties they can convert under California's HOMEKEY program. The City of San Diego has gotten funds from this program in the past and is expecting more to come.

The Mayor believes that long-term housing is the long-term solution, however, he says the problem many times is finding potential locations, “Often when we propose potential shelter opportunities, affordable housing options some communities say no. They cannot say that any longer and expect this problem to go away.”

There is a new move in National City to try and assist the homeless in a different way from what's been done in the past.

San Diego Rescue Mission calls it a Navigation Center.

A small location in Oceanside is already in the works. But at South Bay Community Church, two buildings will be transformed into a transition center.

Donnie Dee, the CEO of San Diego Rescue Mission, says it will be a place of rest for unsheltered people to figure out their next steps, and not have them return to the streets.

"We want to be able to walk you from day one to healthy, stable, working, sober," said Dee.

The center will be a first of its kind in the South Bay. It will allow those without shelter to have a home for up to 30 days.

"It's not a line up outside and come in and get a meal. This is not a soup kitchen. This is not a place where we are providing services to the general public," emphasizes Dee.

"This is a drop-off facility, and once you get in here and you get admitted, we work with you through case management to figure out what your issues are and whose the best one to help you take the next step in life."

Dee says their outreach in the community will be with shower trailers, offering conversation, and a clean bathroom.

There will be over 160 beds, enough to assist the 150 homeless people living in National City, according to National City's Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. The site will also have a kitchen, bathrooms, a playground.

Most importantly, Dee points out a back room, "We are going to turn it into a full-blown day center."

The day center will act as a beacon of hope, to the single women, single men, families, and single parents and children. Mayor Sotelo-Solis believes it will be a place where those seeking comfort, conversation, and assistance, can receive it.

"We don't want transactional. We want long-term solutions."

Mayor Sotelo-Solis shares the difference this center will bring compared to other sites, is that here, people case managers and staff will work daily with those who have never thought of their future, an opportunity to create one.

"People see the need. They see it when they walk out of the grocery store, or somebody breaks into the car," said Mayor Sotelo-Solis.

"This is how we start putting drops in the bucket, to make the bigger splash to say look this is how we end homelessness."

San Diego Rescue Mission hopes to have its doors open by the end of this year. The project will cost roughly $2 to 3 million dollars.

There is a lot on the property that for now is envisioned to be open space. However, Mayor Sotelo-Solis, believes this plot could be used potentially for affordable housing in the future.