The proposed Midway shelter will be administered by Veterans Village of San Diego, a nationally recognized nonprofit that has served veterans since 1981 providing a continuum of care with a full range of comprehensive services. The new homeless center is to be located on a lot in the 2700 block of Sports Arena Boulevard (behind the Goodwill store).
“San Diegans are compassionate people who want to help solve this crisis,” Faulconer said in announcing the homeless transitional program. “Their government must channel that compassion into action, offering more clean and safe spaces that transition the homeless from living on the streets, to living in a permanent home. That 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,” he said.
Faulconer added bridge shelters are “An innovative approach that reflect best practices in serving the most vulnerable members of the homeless population. They serve as a crucial transition point where housing navigators will work with men and women without shelter to find them a permanent housing placement.”
The new homeless transitional 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.
Reacting to the news of the new transitional homeless center in its midst, Kimberly Mitchell, president and CEO of Veterans Village, said, “Veterans Village is proud to partner with the City of San Diego to address the critical issue of homelessness in our community.
“Particularly troubling are the veterans who have served our country over the course of the last 50 years, but now find themselves struggling with homelessness on our streets. We appreciate Mayor Faulconer’s leadership on this issue and the City of San Diego’s partnership with Veterans Village to be part of the solution,” she said.
Mitchell said Veterans Village is happy to run a new transitional homeless tent.
noting, “It is going to enable some of the veterans who've fallen on hard times and ended up on the street to give them that assistance, that hand up, that they need.”
Adding her team at Veterans Village has extensive prior experience and “a lot of lessons learned” operating a winter homeless tent, Mitchell said, “Our team has done it before. We have a great knowledge base here. We know what worked before, what didn't, what needs to be done better. We're ready to take this head on and be successful at it. We thank Mayor Faulconer for taking the lead in initiating this.”
“The planning group is eager to work with the city to facilitate a long-term solution to our homeless issue,” said Cathy Kenton, chair of the Midway Community Planning Group. “The return of the tent to Midway is but one-step in the process. In our experience, Veterans Village runs an excellent program and has proven to be a good neighbor and valuable member of the community. We believe the new ‘bridge tent’ will operate efficiently and with minimal impact.”
“I wholeheartedly support and applaud Mayor Faulconer for his leadership to sanitize our streets and shelter those individuals who live on the streets, parks, beaches and riverbeds,” said District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf.
“These shelters complement the ‘housing first’ model by providing the additional capacity that is needed up-front to help homeless San Diegans leave the streets behind and start on the path toward permanent housing,” said Richard C. Gentry, president/CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission. “This city collaboration with private-sector partners will create more opportunities within the current continuum of services, which already have helped thousands of homeless San Diegans begin to rebuild their lives.”
The total cost of operating the bridge shelters will be finalized in the coming weeks following further discussions with service providers and then Faulconer 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.
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.