San Diego City’s year-round shelter working better than the tent

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – "Everyone deserves a roof over their head and the opportunity for a better life," words from Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday as he talked about helping San Diego’s homeless.

City leaders are proud of the new way they provide beds and services to get people off the streets.

They are not saying "mission accomplished," as they are well aware that the massive homeless problem exists.

City officials are instead saying look how our new approach to helping these people is working.

Timothy Gori is an English as a second language teacher with a master’s degree, who was forced onto the streets of San Diego when he lost his job and his home.

For a few months, he lived in the winter homeless tent in the East Village and when that tent was closed in April, he transitioned into the city’s new year-round indoor shelter at Father Joe’s Villages.

This, to him, is security and a place to breathe.

"Now I don’t have to worry about where am I gonna sleep tonight, is somebody gonna roll up my tent and sleeping bad and I have to start from scratch?" he said.

City Officials are touting their "Housing First" program that offers shelter and wrap around services to hundreds of San Diego’s homeless. 

They say the permanent shelter with 350 beds at Father Joe’s is working much better than a winter tent.

"The percentage of people coming through here who successfully exit to long term housing is twice compared to the rate with temporary tents," Mayor Faulconer said.

There are 80 beds here for women, 270 for men.

Plus healthcare, counseling for mental health and substance abuse issues and job training.

"The fact that this is not gonna close in a few months gives him that certainty gives him the chance to know he can stay off the streets. Good news for all of us, it’s a lot cheaper for taxpayers for him to be here than it is for him to be on the sidewalk," said Councilmember Todd Gloria.

But there is so much more work to be done.

What’s on tap to help more of the cities 8,700 homeless in 2016?

This, the now being renovated 100-year-old Churchill Hotel on C Street, which should be open as low income housing by the end of next year.

"Now we’re building it out to be 72 low income for homeless vets, and aged out foster children will be able to be in there," said Gary Gramling.

Timothy Gori went through the employment program at Father Joe’s and is excited about his brand new job.

"It’s seasonal work but it’s full time, I work at FTD–delivering flowers to make people happy?–for Christmas and New Year’s period of time, he said." 

The mayor and Todd Gloria also announced plans for the homeless in extremely cold weather.

They will be able to fit 200 people on cots set up in the dining areas of Father Joe’s and another 50 at the Neal Goode Day Center.

And last week, we covered the opening of Alpha Square, a building on market and 14th with 200 low income studio apartments.

Every little bit helps, but it all costs money.

Categories: KUSI