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NGO: Shelter bed cuts in San Diego led to migrant drop-offs

Catholic Charities of San Diego told to reduce migrant shelter beds by 50 percent.

SAN DIEGO — Fewer shelter beds for migrants in San Diego may be to blame for the recent increase in asylum seekers being dropped of at transit stations by federal agents. 

Two hotels in San Diego currently are under contract with the state of California to house migrants after they have been processed at the border. A 207-room hotel in the Midway District is operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego. A 400-room hotel in Mission Valley is operated by Catholic Charities of San Diego. This year, state contracts showed the California Department of Public Health paid $19 million to rent all the rooms in the Midway District hotel, and $28 million to rent the rooms in the Mission Valley hotel to operate both as migrant shelters.

The California Department of Social Services currently pays about $19 million annually to Jewish Family Service of San Diego, and about $18 million to Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego to administer the hotel shelter programs.

Those numbers do not include state dollars used for healthcare, daily meals, transportation and hotel security.

Both of the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) also receive federal funding.

Jewish Family Service told CBS 8 it has been managing migrant shelters in San Diego since 2018. Catholic Charities has been running three migrant shelters since 2021, one in San Diego and two in Imperial County.

The NGOs said, currently, hotel shelter beds are being limited to vulnerable populations only, leaving single adults with no place to go.

“Effective immediately and going forward, the shelter will limit arrivals only to the most vulnerable asylum seekers released by DHS, including those with medical conditions, families, pregnant people, LGBTQI, older adults, etc., as space allows,” according to a statement by Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

For Catholic Charities, the number of available shelter beds is being cut in half across the two counties, according the CEO Vino Pajanor.

“We are going from a 1600 (bed) capacity to an 800 (bed) capacity,” Pajanor said. “It's because of the funding that has been reduced from the state.”

Catholic Charities of San Diego is closing one of its shelters in Imperial County this month. In October, its 400-room hotel shelter in Mission Valley will be shut down and moved to an undisclosed location, Pajanor said.

Additionally, case management of migrants at the Catholic Charities shelters is being reassigned from the state to the NGO. Pajanor said state employees with California’s Office of Emergency Services – who currently work on site at the shelters – are being removed due to a state budget deficit.

The cuts are resulting in DHS dropping off more migrants at San Diego transit centers.

“So, the question now becomes is the federal government going to step up and provide California and San Diego its fair share of funding so that we don't have people on the streets?” said Pajanor.

Additionally, Jewish Family Service of San Diego told CBS 8 they are seeing DHS bring more people from Texas and Arizona to be released in San Diego.

WATCH: Extended excerpts of CBS 8 interview with Catholic Charities of San Diego CEO:

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