The newest homeless shelter in San Diego will have on-site behavioral health services for clients and a 24-hour intake system under a contract the San Diego Housing Commission approved with the Alpha Project on Thursday.
“This is a model we’ve been thinking of for a long time,” Lisa Jones, the Housing Commission executive vice president of strategic initiatives, told commissioners following the contract approval.
The 150-bed tent shelter will be on the southeast corner of the county’s Health Services complex at 3851 Rosecrans St. Construction should be completed in June, Jones said.
The contract with the Alpha Project is for one year for $4.8 million, including $275,000 in start-up costs, with two one-year options for renewal.
The shelter will provide three meals a day and have showers, a laundry and storage areas, similar to other city-funded shelters. Unlike other shelters, it also will have staffing for 24-hour intakes and on-site behavioral health services provided by the county. The staff report on the contract noted that the plan aligns with the city’s community action plan on homelessness, which calls for more crisis response beds and greater access to behavioral health resources.
The county will be responsible for all improvements on the site and utility costs. The Housing Commission will oversee program operations. The Lucky Duck Foundation, a philanthropic group that helps the homeless, owns the large tent. It is lending it to the city and covering the construction costs.
Requests for proposals to operate the shelter were issued March 20, and although 20 prospective bidders downloaded the application, the Alpha Project was the sole respondent by the March 25 deadline.
Commissioner Eugene Mitchell said he was worried about the lack of respondents. Jones replied that the size of the project was a factor, as only the Alpha Project and Father Joe’s Villages have experience in operating shelters with more than 75 beds. The Housing Commission received proposals from four providers when it released requests for proposals to operate a smaller shelter last year, Jones said.
The Alpha Project also operates shelters in large tents at 16th Street and Newton and at 17th Street and Imperial Avenue. It also operates a smaller shelter on Sports Arena Boulevard and oversaw 600 beds when the city operated a shelter at the San Diego Convention Center during the pandemic.