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Uptown Community Service Center helping San Diego's homeless amid heat wave

A church and two nonprofits are working together to help the homeless – offering resources that are particularly vital as a heat wave moves in.
San Diego heat wave -- UpTown Community Service Center
Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-12 21:06:27-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — As San Diego heats up, some organizations are working overtime to ensure our homeless have the resources to stay protected.

“I’m tired… and basically disabled,” said Leonis Smith.

Smith has faced homelessness for two years. He comes to Uptown Community Service Center, a nonprofit located in North Park, most days to cool down.

“It’s better than being out there in the street… the sun beating down on you and you got nowhere to go… dehydration sets in,” he said.

Uptown acts as a sort of one-stop shop during the day: it offers clean restrooms, showers, clothing, drinking water, mailboxes and hygiene kits.

“We offer them survival kits, water bottles to carry water with them, towels to cool them down,” said Amelia Broadnax, who is the operations coordinator for Uptown.

Broadnax shared that she used to face homelessness herself. She now works At Uptown, connecting clients with permanent housing through her nonprofit GLM House Inc.

Alisan Rowland, Uptown’s executive director, says about 170 people show up per day, but they see a spike in numbers when it’s hot.

“We’re very aware that it’s a challenging environment to be out here in the sun and not have an opportunity to rest,” she said. “We really do want to provide folks with a comfortable place to come and relax.”

“People can easily die on these streets; it’s not uncommon,” said Shane O’Garro.

O’Garro, the senior pastor and executive director of Church of Salvation, leads an outreach team in North Park, Lemon Grove and La Mesa. His teams bring people to Uptown where they work with them over time.

“You can’t immediately just take somebody and put them into an apartment when they’ve been used to living on the streets,” he explained.

He says it’s a model that’s working: they’ve transitioned more than 50 people from homelessness to permanent housing in the last year.

Uptown and Church of Salvation said they’re looking for volunteers. You can learn more about Uptown and Church of Salvation and donate to their efforts by following the links.