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Newly homeless in San Diego face the stark reality of no shelter beds

CBS 8 obtained records that show only a handful of shelter beds are available each day, leaving thousands without an option.

Dorian Hargrove, Steve Price

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Published: 5:18 PM PDT September 13, 2023
Updated: 5:18 PM PDT September 13, 2023

Facing his first day without shelter, 62-year-old, 'Scott' arrived at San Diego's Homelessness Response Center just after 4:30 in the morning on September 14. 

A homeless resource worker told him to go the response center for a shelter bed and to get there early.

When Scott, who wished not to use his real name, arrived at 1401 Imperial Avenue he was stunned. 

Tents were set up near the front door. 

A handful of people wearing backpacks, some in wheelchairs, others in hospital gowns, formed a line along the east side of the Homelessness Response Center's front door.

Scott took his spot in line and waited.

Like so many, Scott never expected to have to stand in line for a warm bed to sleep in.

Like so many, Scott never imagined just how difficult it is to get that warm bed.

Minutes after 8:00 a.m. nearly four hours after arriving, staff inside the Homelessness Response Center informed Scott, as well as the dozens of others in line, that no shelter beds were available.

And while Scott says that the lack of beds was one part startling and another part frightening, for the thousands of San Diego's homeless population, advocates, as well as others, say it is no surprise.

In a public records request, CBS 8 obtained the daily number of shelter beds available in San Diego since the beginning of the year and found that on average there were only 25 beds a day for men, women, unaccompanied minors, and transition-age youth. 

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