SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - With the goals of reducing homelessness across the San Diego region and combating the regional hepatitis A outbreak, Mayor Kevin Faulconer was joined Wednesday by civic leaders as he announced the creation of three new temporary "bridge-to-housing" shelters.
It's part of a new public-private partnership to help homeless individuals get off the street for good.
"San Diegans are compassionate people who want to help solve this crisis. Their government must channel that compassion into action," Mayor Faulconer said. "Offering more clean and safe spaces that transition the homeless from living on the streets to living in a permanent home is exactly what San Diego needs right now. 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."
Working with homeless service providers, Mayor Faulconer has identified three locations for the temporary bridge shelters with the goal of opening one or more of them by the end of December. The locations are:
Each facility will consist of a large, industrial tent with more than 100 beds with restrooms, showers, meals and 24-hour security. The service providers will offer supportive services and connections to health care, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job search training at all three locations.
The mayor will seek City Council approval for funds to operate the shelters. The City is also exploring adding more bridge shelters in the future at other locations.
The total cost of operating the bridge shelters will be finalized in the coming weeks following further discussions with service providers.
These new bridge shelters will operate alongside the City's current interim housing program at Father Joe's Villages - an indoor facility with 350 beds and supportive services for homeless individuals and veterans that is open every single night of the year.
A proposal to declare an emergency in San Diego over a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A is scheduled to go before the City Council's Select Committee on Homelessness Wednesday.
The declaration would focus on a lack of shelters. Hepatitis A, which attacks the liver, has had a heavy impact on the homeless. County health officials said 421 people became ill and 16 have died.
Councilman David Alvarez proposed the shelter declaration nearly two weeks ago, calling for immediate action because of the fatalities. In response, the office of Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the declaration was unnecessary, since the city was taking steps to combat the illness.
On Tuesday, the city began a pilot program to keep 14 public restrooms in Balboa Park open 24 hours a day. Under direction from county health, the city on Monday began washing down streets and sidewalks in the East Village with a bleach formula.
Around 40 hand-washing stations have been set up around the city -- concentrated in areas where the homeless congregate.
In January's annual tally of the area's transient population, 5,619 homeless individuals were counted in the city of San Diego, a 10.3 percent increase from last year. Of those, 3,231 were living on the streets.