Downtown high-rise to become homeless shelter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Downtown high-rise to become homeless shelter

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a financing package for a 225-bed downtown homeless shelter that could open by the end of 2012.

The Connections Housing project will convert the 12-story World Trade Center Building on A Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues into a shelter with space for a medical clinic and social service providers.

The 83-year-old building, which used to be the home of the San Diego Athletic Club, houses offices for city workers.

About half the $32.3 million cost for converting the building will come from the city's Redevelopment Agency, and the San Diego Housing Commission will pay in $2 million, according to Jeff Graham, vice president of redevelopment for the Centre City Development Corp. Officials will apply for federal tax credits to raise the rest of the money, he said..

"This is the most important project in downtown," City Councilman Todd Gloria said.

City officials hope the project will stop the annual drawn-out search for a place to put a cold-weather shelter, open this year at 1625 Newton Ave..

That shelter serves about 220 people per day, with an average of about 15 turned away daily, but is slated to be converted into a school, according to the San Diego Housing Commission.

Graham said six other projects are in the pipeline to provide beds for those living on the streets in San Diego County, of which there are nearly 4,800, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

The Connections Housing project will return to the City Council next week for approvals of permits and other land use issues. If all goes well, construction could be finished by December 2012 -- and maybe earlier, Graham said.

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