San Diego adding 3 new homeless shelters, look to curb hepatitis A outbreak

Street cleaning underway amid hepatitis A outbreak
Posted at 5:21 AM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 22:53:59-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - In the latest effort to house the growing number of homeless in the San Diego region, city officials Wednesday said three new temporary shelters will open, the first one or two by the end of this year.

"The solutions are not perfect, but they are necessary" said Mayor Kevin Faulconer at a news conference.

While the city has worked on finding housing opportunities for the homeless, the decision also comes in the wake of a deadly hepatitis A outbreak, which has largely impacted the homeless. Each facility will have more than 100 beds, with restrooms and showers. Service providers will also be on site at all three locations, offering alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job search training.

"This represents a significant expansion of our homeless service network and is one of the most immediate and effective actions we can take to provide relief to unsheltered people who are suffering and want help," said Faulconer.

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The homeless population in the city of San Diego has been growing in recent years. In January, 5,619 transients were counted, a 10 percent increase from last year. Of those 3,231 were living on the street.

In order to find housing opportunities for the homeless, the city has partnered with individuals in the private sector to fund operation costs. The final price is to be finalized in the coming weeks. But at least two businessmen have offered to donate $1.5 million to help expedite the opening of these shelters.

The city has identified shelter locations at:

-- the parking lot on Father Joe's Villages campus at 14th and Commercial Streets in the East Village
-- a vacant lot in the 2700 block of Sports Arena Boulevard, behind the Goodwill store, in the Midway District to be run by the Veterans Village of San Diego
-- a vacated street at 16th Street and Newton Avenue for a shelter to be operated by the Alpha Project

The 16th Street location was used for several years for a tented shelter during the cold weather months. 

There are skeptics of the plan. Joel Rocco, owner of Undisputed Gym in the East Village said he thinks there are too many homeless people in the area for temporary housing to be useful.

"I don't think it will make a dent, honestly," said Rocco.

He claims the large homeless encampments surrounding his gym have detracted new clients, hurting his business. 

"Unless this city finds a permanent housing solution, nothing is going to work," he said.

The mayor said he hopes to have at least one operating by the end of December. The cost of the plan has not been announced. Faulconer said he plans to present a final version to the city council in the coming weeks.