Special Report: Alpha Project Pizzeria serving up support to people who need housing help
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — There’s a new pizzeria that’s opened in the heart of downtown and it’s not just serving up cheese pies and paninis.
It’s also serving up help and support to some of San Diego’s most vulnerable, those who are homeless.
Inside the kitchen of Alpha Pizzeria, the staff is hard at work producing tasty pizzas, salads and calzones, but what makes this East Village restaurant different is what happens to the money.
The profits are going to support services inside Alpha Square, which provides housing for those who were homeless.
70-year-old Dan Hampton moved into the high rise building when it opened last year. He’s one of the 203 residents who have a unit inside the Alpha Square, offering permanent, supportive housing to San Diegans who were living without shelter, some with disabilities, some with mental illness. There are caseworkers and services for all of them.
This low-income housing resembles nothing else in San Diego County. The front desk and computer room look more like the inside of an up-scape hotel. The credit for this housing goes to Bob McElroy and his Alpha Project.
Rather than rely on outside funding, McElroy is using the pizzeria as a means to support the residents of Alpha Square.
There’s another way that residents who live at Alpha Square will benefit.
Margaret moved into Alpha Square last summer. She’s hoping to join a job training program, eight weeks of courses inside the pizzeria that will give Margaret the skills and the confidence to start looking for a job.
Chef Alex Carballo will be running the training program. He’s opened many other restaurants in the San Diego area, but none of them has given him a sense of bringing so much more to the table than just food.
The job training at the pizzeria is set to start in about a month. The Alpha Project has contracts to do other work, from clearing away brush, working at the landfill and doing outreach to the homeless in other cities.
All of these generate income for other Alpha Project programs.