San Diego City Council approves purchase of downtown building to house homeless-services center
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego City Council Monday unanimously approved the purchase of a downtown building to house a homeless-services center.
The council agreed to pay $7.3 million for the building at 1401 Imperial Ave. The building will eventually be known as the Housing Navigation Center for Homeless Services.
Kris Michell, city deputy chief operating officer, told council members the center will end the problem of homeless people having to bounce from place to place to find services.
“We will be one step closer to opening San Diego’s homeless navigation center,” she said of the building purchase.
Michell said the center will offer a coordinated system pairing homeless people with specialists and organizations to help them with various needs, such as Social Security information, veterans’ services, workforce training and finding a permanent home.
According to the city, the three-story building is more 26,000 square feet and is near Father Joe’s Village and next to a trolley line.
The building requires no major tenant improvements and already has furniture, according to the city.
City officials said community development block grants, including from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will pay for the acquisition, which must be handled in escrow by Feb. 7.
Councilman Mark Kersey, who represents District 5, said the building was a good deal in terms of cost.
“We’ve been talking about this for the entire time I’ve been on the council,” Kersey said.
Meanwhile, the council also approved an ordinance creating an Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone within city limits.
The creation of the zone, according to city officials, will allow owners of qualifying vacant or unimproved property to contract with the city, restricting the property to small-scale agricultural uses in exchange for a reduction in their property tax.
Proponents said that along with the tax benefit, local gardens will benefit communities where fresh food isn’t always available.
According to the city, the ordinance will result in a property tax revenue loss of $173,673 per year.
About 2,000 parcels, which can be no larger than three acres, are eligible under the program, according to the city.