City of San Diego opens fourth bridge shelter for homeless residents
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In response to the city’s continuing need for shelter beds for the homeless, San Diego is opening a fourth bridge shelter this week. But the appearance by Mayor Faulconer and other officials to draw attention to the shelter, also drew attention to the complexities of the “homeless issue.”
Three hours before city officials would arrive at San Diego’s newest shelter for the homeless, located at 17th and Imperial, the scene across the street was one of a “sidewalk tent city.” The kind of packed-in area and the mishmash of belongings, not to mention trash, that was commonplace during the height of the 2017 Hepatitis A outbreak.
It was that health emergency which started the city down the bridge shelter path. To a casual observer, the presence of several San Diego Police officers, followed by street cleaning crews, suggested this was all being done to make the scene look good for Mayor Faulconer’s appearance. Not so, say the people on the front lines everyday, including Bob McElroy. His Alpha Project, now has two shelters to oversee.
He told KUSI, “There was a study done. The same people who did the homeless plan. The vacancy rate for affordable housing is 4.3%. The vacancy rate for low income housing is zero. It just doesn’t exist.”
Just because the proliferation of so-called sidewalk tent cities have largely been addressed, the daily reality is that the East Village is still the heart of San Diego’s homeless population. Mayor Faulconer says the city’s officers and crews are here and in the surrounding blocks daily.
It also means that you often have to measure getting the city’s chronically homeless off the streets one person at a time.