Officials celebrate construction of permanent homeless shelter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Officials celebrate construction of permanent homeless shelter

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A permanent shelter for the homeless will not only help people in need, but improve the quality of life in downtown San Diego, the city councilman who represents the area said Thursday.

The "Connections Housing" development at the former site of the World Trade Center at 1250 Sixth Ave. will make a difference in the city's "acute homeless problem," Councilman Kevin Faulconer said at an event in which officials marked the construction of the building.

Work on the structure began about a month ago, with crews demolishing the insides of the existing structure, according to the developer. The 86-year-old concrete block structure has been vacant for several years and its white exterior paint is peeling.

After he described the homeless services that will be offered, Mayor Jerry Sanders took note of the building's condition.

"What's more, we're turning an underutilized, blighted building into one where the homeless can come and turn their lives around," Sanders said.

Officials with People Assisting The Homeless -- or PATH -- said they remain on track to open many of the new housing units by early November.

When finished, the facility will include 73 permanent housing units, 150 beds of interim housing, a health care clinic and a social services center. Many of the units have private bathrooms and some have kitchenettes.

The new shelter will eliminate the need for city officials to open a temporary cold-weather shelter every winter and sends a message that "we don't only care about the homeless in the winter, but 365 days a year," said Councilman Todd Gloria, who will represent downtown when new council districts take effect later this year.

Speakers also lauded the cooperation between social service organizations, private business and several layers of government agencies in getting the project under way.

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