Staggering new homeless numbers in downtown San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The homeless problem in downtown San Diego is getting worse in East Village.

According to the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless, the number of unsheltered homeless in downtown San Diego went up 26 percent in a year.

That from the annual homeless count done in January.

The Neil Good Day Center on 17th Street sees between 200 and 250 new homeless folks every month.

“Smart homeless people are in San Diego, dummies are on 12 foot snow drifts back east somewhere,” said Bob McElroy, from the Alpha Project.

Their new project, Alpha Square, will open with another 200 beds in August.

“Once we have enough for everyone another 600 units, now we can enforce illegal lodging tickets we need that stick as providers, to engage people to come in and get some help,” McElroy said.

50-year-old Patricia, who didn’t want her face on camera, came to San Diego as many others do, from another state, from Massachusetts more than a year ago.

“I decided to try the streets for a while and I couldn’t survive, got beat up, drugged without my knowledge, everything stolen from me,” she said.

She utilized services to get back on her feet and now rents her own room.

Councilman Todd Gloria said a few months ago, he wanted to end chronic homelessness in downtown San Diego by the end of 2016.

Now, he said the city is moving forward with operational changes like getting rid of the winter shelter and having St. Vincent’s take in more homeless, but he said his deadline will have to be extended.

There are two major needs right now: Time and beds.

“You gotta have time, you can’t case manage somebody who’s out here trying to survive every night, chasing people around,” McElroy said.

The Alpha Project is working with the downtown partnership on a new initiative to educate church groups that mass street feedings are not safe.

The donated food should be given out through programs so women, the disabled and the elderly can eat first and so that there are bathrooms and easy cleanup.

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