SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A controversial storage center for San Diego’s homeless opens Wednesday in downtown San Diego and will allow transients to safely store their belongings while looking for housing or interviewing for jobs.
Opening the storage center took a lot of work because of the backlash from nearby residents, but officials said they hope that with the right management, the facility will not be a nuisance but rather a good thing.
The 25,000 square-foot storage facility located in Logan Heights will officially open Wednesday to 500 homeless individuals. Lisa Jones with the San Diego Housing Commission helped oversee the project. “We still have a significant unsheltered population we are trying to respond to,” she said.
For the first 90 days of the facility’s opening, individuals will be accepted based on referrals from outreach groups and San Diego police. After checking in and going through an intake process, individuals will receive one bin which they access during business hours, seven days a week. Before bins are placed on the shelves, they will be placed in a zap bug, which is a device that uses heat to disinfect the items inside.
The storage facility has its critics. Councilman David Alvarez and other community members protested saying in part, the facility’s 20th Street location is too close to Our Lady of Guadalupe School.
In response, the City of San Diego said it has taken steps to alleviate any issues. The center will have 24-hour security. San Diego Police has agreed to increase patrols. Also, individuals will also have access to outreach workers in hopes of turning their lives around.
The cost of the storage facility will be $1.4 million for its first year. The cost will include the lease, operating agreement and tenant improvements. The City of San Diego will re-evaluate the program before its second year, but the goal is to keep the storage facility open long-term.
The initial proposal asked that the facility house items for 1,000 individuals, but that was trimmed down as way to ease tensions with nearby residents.
One resident told News 8, off-camera, he was initially against the facility, but now things it will be a good thing. Officials said they will continue to work with neighbors to address any issues that may come up.
The City of San Diego said it hopes to open additional storage facilities in the future.