San Diego City Council approves homeless storage center in Sherman Heights
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s plan to keep neighborhoods clean by providing a safe and secure place for homeless individuals to store their belongings will move forward with the City Council approval Tuesday to lease a warehouse and hire Mental Health Systems (MHS) to operate the facility.
The Transitional Storage Center, located at 116 South 20th Street, will be a place for homeless individuals to safely store their belongings instead of on the streets, while they access services, look for housing, attend school, interview for a job or go to work. The Center will help reduce clutter on streets and public areas, aiding the City’s efforts to improve the cleanliness of neighborhoods. In addition to opening the storage center, the Mayor has committed to several steps that will keep the surrounding neighborhood clean and safe.
“This is another big step in our plan to reduce homelessness and get people into permanent housing,” Mayor Faulconer said. “With nowhere to safely store their belongings, many homeless individuals choose to watch over their possessions on the sidewalk instead of accessing rehabilitative services. This storage facility will change that and allow folks to go to job interviews, school or a doctor’s appointment without worry. It’s also going to keep those items out of public areas, leading to cleaner neighborhoods.”
To address neighborhood concerns, the City and MHS will take several proactive steps to ensure the facility is a good neighbor, including:
- Limit storage capacity to 500 bins.
- Clients by referral only for first 90 days of operation.
- Open no sooner than June 13, which is after the end of the local school year.
- Creating a Neighborhood Advisory Committee to develop relationships and partnerships throughout the community to assist with addressing concerns or issues.
- Providing security within a one-block radius of the facility.
- Conducting homeless outreach to reduce homelessness in the surrounding community.
- Preventing queuing around the facility.
- Proactively removing litter, debris and graffiti on the premises.
- Prohibiting alcohol and drug use on site.
- Reporting criminal activity to law enforcement.
- Providing an enhanced level of police presence to address nuisance behavior and criminal activity as necessary.
- Increasing frequency of community cleanups in the area by the Environmental Services Department.
The Transitional Storage Center, which includes 22,000 square feet with capacity for up to 500 lockable storage bins, is part of Mayor Faulconer’s comprehensive “Connect, Support, House” strategy to reduce homelessness in San Diego. The strategy provides stability through shelters and programs, gives increased access to supportive services – such as the storage center – and creates more opportunities to end the cycle of homelessness through permanent housing.
The City Council today approved $1.4 million for the operating contract, startup costs and tenant improvements.
Councilmember David Alvarez, who was against the project, released the following statement after Council approved the transitional storage center at 116 South 20th Street:
“Placing a Transitional Storage Facility for homeless people next door to an elementary school playground is terrible. While I strongly condemn Mayor Faulconer and the Council for forcing this facility onto the families in our neighborhoods, I am proud of the hundreds of community members that came to City Hall to fight for their community today. Because of the community’s activism the Mayor was forced to provide additional resources for security and cleaning, while also reducing the size of the facility. We will remain vigilant to ensure that this facility does not ruin our neighborhood for the many families who live nearby, our local small businesses and for the young children who attend the school across the street.”
San Diego Councilmember Chris Ward (District Three) also issued a statement on the vote:
“The ability to safely store belongings is a turning point for an individual experiencing homelessness, allowing them the opportunity to connect with services, find gainful employment, attend school or address their healthcare needs. I’ve been calling for such an increase since March 2017 because we have seen the success of the current facility downtown and know the need of those living on our streets.
This storage facility must deliver for both the clients it will serve and the neighborhood that surrounds it. The additional neighborhood protections in place – related to increased police and environmental services – will ensure we will minimize the community impact. I will be working closely with Mayor Faulconer and community partners to ensure that the protections Council included today are upheld.”