Some temporary homeless shelter beds go unused in San Diego

Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 21:18:30-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Thousands of homeless people in San Diego are sleeping outside in cold, wet conditions as the region endures its first winter storm.

Meanwhile, some beds at a temporary shelter set up to provide refuge from the rain can go unused.

Father Joe's transforms its facility at the corner of 15th and Imperial in downtown into a shelter anytime the temperature is expected to drop below 50 degrees and there's a 40 percent or more chance of rain.

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The organization opened its shelter for the first time in 2018 on Monday night in anticipation of the rain. It holds 250 beds, but only about 100 were used, said Deacon Jim Vargas, who heads the organization.

"The first night of the season that happens," he said. "Historically that's what we've seen for years."

Vargas said the problem is getting the word out last minute, not just in the immediate area, but also in the 2-1-1 system. He expects a larger crowd at the shelter Tuesday, where guests get warn meals and a hot shower. There's also a residential and security staff on-site, with men and women grouped in different areas.

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But some people choose not go into the shelters.

Perliena Jackson says she plans to stay in her tent, despite the cold weather, because she said she had an uncomfortable experience in a different shelter. She said sleeping in the tent Monday night in the rain was not easy.

"It was just raining too hard," she said. "The wind was blowing too hard. The tent fell down. It was just not good at all."

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Vargas said temporary shelters can only do so much - the region instead needs more affordable housing.

Jackson says she wants a permanent place to stay as well. 

The San Diego Housing Commission contributes $25,000 a year for the temporary shelters at Father Joe's.