The shelters are a key piece of Faulconer’s “Connect, Support, House” strategy to reduce homelessness and will continue to serve up to 674 homeless individuals every day with beds, meals, showers, restrooms, 24-hour security, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job training as well as help to find permanent housing.
Over the last several months representatives from 19 different cities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and Vancouver, Canada, have visited the San Diego Bridge Shelters to explore replicating the programs in their own cities.
Since they opened in December and January, more than 300 individuals have moved through the Bridge Shelters and into permanent or long-term housing. That fell below initial expectations because far fewer individuals were already matched to a housing resource, like a voucher or rapid rehousing subsidy, than originally thought and, therefore, weren’t ready to find a permanent home.
Instead, most of the individuals staying at the Bridge Shelters had a myriad of challenges, from mental illness to addiction to physical limitations. Statistics from the shelters show:
35 percent are over the age of 55, which makes finding long-term employment difficult;
54 percent have no income at all;
56 percent have a disability;
34 percent self-report some form of mental illness.
Armed with more accurate data about the homeless population being served by the Bridge Shelters, several changes to the operator contracts were made to improve operations. Each Bridge Shelter will replace housing navigators with more skilled case managers and housing specialists to better align with the specific needs of the populations in each location. Additional training in prevention and diversion, trauma informed care, motivational interviewing and harm reduction are also part of the new contracts.
The City’s three Bridge Shelters include:
The parking lot on Father Joe’s Villages campus at 14th and Commercial Streets in the East Village, operated by Father Joe’s Villages. Serves families and single women.
A vacant lot in the 2700 block of Sports Arena Boulevard (behind the Goodwill store) in the Midway District, run by the Veterans Village of San Diego. Serves military veterans.
A vacated street at 16th Street and Newton Avenue, operated by Alpha Project. Serves single adults.