A 150-bed shelter originally projected to open in July is scheduled to open Monday in the Midway District, an area that has seen large homeless encampment on city streets in recent months.
The shelter is the third to be housed in a large fabric structure built by the company Sprung, but will be the first of its kind in several ways for the city of San Diego.
It will be the first city-funded shelter on county property and not in downtown San Diego, the first with a focus on mental health and addiction issues, and the first to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This kind of collaboration is how we reduce street homelessness,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said at a press conference attended by officials from the city, county and homeless service providers. “It really requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
The shelter is behind the San Diego County Health and Human Services Complex and the Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County on Rosecrans Street.
The new addition will bring the number of shelter beds in the city of San Diego to 1,666, and Gloria said a new non-congregate shelter will be announced soon. San Diego County Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, also at the press conference, said the Board of Supervisors earlier this year approved a $10 million grant program available to all cities in the county to help open shelters, safe parking lots, secure campgrounds or other options for getting people off the street.
The optimism expressed by speakers Friday, however, was tempered by the realization that much more needs to be done. The number of homeless people throughout the county has increased by 10 percent since 2020, and a count of homeless people in downtown San Diego alone reached a record high of 1,609 last month.
“We know that no one shelter is gong to solve every problem we face, but it’s another step in the right direction,” Fletcher said.
The new shelter set to open Monday is owned by the Lucky Duck Foundation, which is lending it to the city.
Drew Moser, executive director of the foundation, also stressed that more action is needed to get people off the street.
“I can’t express enough how much our foot is on the gas to do more,” he said about the foundation, which has funded several endeavors to help people living without shelter.
San Diego City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell called on all area residents to work on solutions to find more housing for homeless people.
“Put your thinking caps on,” she said. “Do you know someone who needs to rent out space? Do you know someone who can call the San Diego Housing Commission and say, ‘I have a second home I’d like to rent out to help?”
The shelter will be run by the Alpha Project, with mental health services provided by Vista Hill. At one time it was expected to have 125 beds, but adjustments inside were made to add another 25, Alpha Project President and CEO Bob McElroy said.
The shelter will have on-site mental health and addiction treatment, communicable disease screenings, case management, housing navigation, showers, restrooms and laundry services. Clients also will be provided three meals a day.