Winter homeless shelter to be located in East Village - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Winter homeless shelter to be located in East Village

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(CNS) - One of two locations in downtown San Diego's East Village will be the site of the city's 220-bed temporary winter homeless shelter, the City Council decided today.

The council voted 6-2 to place a tent shelter at a privately owned lot at 15th Street and Island Avenue, where it was located last year. If that site is not available, as the owner of the land has indicated to city staffers, the shelter will be located in an empty warehouse at 13th and F streets.

The council's decision comes after weeks of wrangling over where to locate the temporary structure, which will serve the homeless from November through March.

It also comes over the objection of East Village residents, who argue the neighborhood is already home to a disproportionate amount of homeless services, and Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who battled to get it placed anywhere outside of downtown.

"We have to have other parts of the city participate," Faulconer said.

He was joined by Councilman Carl DeMaio in casting the dissenting votes.

Last month, the City Council rejected more than a dozen sites surveyed by the mayor's office as potential locations for the temporary winter homeless shelter because they were all located downtown.

The council directed the mayor's staff to come back with new options outside downtown, which they did, but none of the 16 sites beyond San Diego's core received any consideration.

For the past two years, the shelter has been set up in the East Village. Before that, it had been located in neighboring Barrio Logan since 1999.

Homeless advocates argue that the shelter is needed in downtown because that's where most of the homeless and the services they rely on are located.

"The reality is the folks are downtown and the services are downtown," said Bob McElroy, president of the Alpha Project, which operates the shelter for the city.

Cricket Bradburn said the East Village was home to the homeless and associated services long before the neighborhood became gentrified and the location of numerous condominium developments.

"The city put the facilities downtown," Bradburn told the council. "They put it an ugly part of town at the time. Then the developers decided, `Hey, we could build some homes,' and now they are displacing the people that were there."

David Hazan, president of the East Village Association, accused the City Council of reneging on its promise not to put the winter homeless shelter in the same location year after year.

"We believe in order for the East Village to continue to be a vibrant growing neighborhood, the council must reject the East Village as the location for the temporary shelter," Hazan said before the vote was taken.

A number of council members expressed consternation about the city's lack of progress in establishing a year-round homeless shelter. That facility is at least two years away.

"I think it's a function of political willingness," Councilman Carl DeMaio said of the delay.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald agreed that the city needs to "start looking at homelessness from a holistic view."

The City Council voted to allocate $718,000 to fund the San Diego's emergency winter homeless shelter program. In addition to the 220-bed shelter in the East Village, the city will also fund a temporary facility for veterans in the Midway area.

According to city staff, San Diego is home to about 4,300 homeless people. Of those, about 1,800 people are now living on the streets.


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