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City of San Diego moving homeless from Convention Center to city-owned apartments

City officials say getting people permanent housing & vital services is a major step for helping the most vulnerable residents, especially during a pandemic.

SAN DIEGO — The pandemic is pushing homelessness in America to new heights and San Diego is no different. The City of San Diego is using a vast amount of resources to combat one of the biggest issues of our time.

For the first time in four years, Ed Bidwell finally has a place that he can call home. He has been bouncing around shelters throughout San Diego and most recently lived downtown at the Convention Center. Now through the City of San Diego’s Operation Shelter to Home, Bidwell has moved into his new apartment, a room in the old Marriot Building in Hotel Circle.

Bidwell said, “But it's a one full bedroom studio, nice living room, microwave oven. There's a color TV in the living room. I haven't slept on a normal bed in four years.”

Bidwell is just one of many formerly homeless people who have moved into new apartments purchased by the city. There are three hundred thirty-two permanent housing units in Hotel Circle and Kearny Mesa. Not only will they have the peace of mind of having a roof over their head, but they will be provided additional services aimed at breaking the cycle of homelessness. 

The Executive Vice President for the San Diego Housing Commission, Lisa Jones said, “So we have onsite employment and education specialists that also help people get connected. Folks that have been disenfranchised for a long time, really, they do best when they are connected back into that community.”

Jones added that getting people permanent housing and vital services is a major step for helping the city’s most vulnerable residents, especially during a pandemic. “This has been a really challenging time for so many people with a health pandemic on top of a homelessness crisis, but rather than sort of buckling under that pressure, we have really seen the city and the Community Action Plan on homelessness create a framework to really move forward.”

She says that the city will continue to look at more permanent housing options for San Diego’s homeless, as there are still thousands of people living in the Convention Center as well as in various shelters and on the streets.

For those like Ed Bidwell, he sees his new one-bedroom apartment as a turning point in his life and is grateful for the city for giving him a home. “This is a tremendous, very exciting beginning. This is my home. I owe it to San Diego,” said Bidwell.

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