Year-round homeless tents part of San Diego's budget battle

Long-term funding at issue
Posted at 5:59 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 20:59:04-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - There are three year-round homeless tents set up in San Diego. Their long-term future could hinge on budget hearings that began Wednesday at City Hall.

Several hundred of our homeless have beds, showers, warmth, a refrigerator for their medicine, and security for awhile. That could end, though.

The shelter on Sports Arena Blvd. provides solely for veterans.

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Another near Father Joe's Village at 15th and Commercial is open for women and children. The Alpha Project tent, a few blocks over, welcomes men, women, and dogs.

Valeria Burton has been here six months.  

"It's safe. I would be on the street, sleeping in my tent on concrete with my blanket and cardboard," Burton said.

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The veterans and women and children locations have a few openings most nights. Alpha Project, though, is at capacity every night, with waiting lists of 50 to 200, depending on the weather.

"Someone doesn't show up for bed check and that bed's rolled up; our outreach team goes out at 9 o'clock down the street and people cue up. We'll bring 'em in, start the process," Bob McElroy, of the Alpha Project, said.

The goal is to get them into housing and jobs within a few months.

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Paying for it is part of the budget debate for fiscal '19 underway in San Diego council chambers. Money currently comes from Housing Commission reserves but what happens after that runs out?

Robert Clune said he hit rock bottom after being laid off from Nassco, living on the street for years.

 "23 people got laid off at Nassco. I was one of them and when I hit, I didn't get up and dust myself off and keep pushing," Clune said. "I basically just laid there."

It's different now. 

"This right here is hope, for a lot of people and the process is good for me; the doors are just opening," Clune said. He's been a painter, a cement mason, a laborer. He said he's ready to work again.  

The San Diego City Council should have the budget ready by June.