A permanent home for the homeless will not be ready by December, so San Diego officials may have to open a temporary winter shelter once again this year.
The city is opening a $31 million new structure at 6th Avenue and B Street at the site of the old World Trade Center building, but the renovation is taking longer than expected.
“Securing a site for the winter homeless shelter before it’s needed demonstrates our city’s commitment to truly helping our homeless population,” Councilman Todd Gloria said in an emailed statement Monday.
The City Council decided unanimously Monday to plan for a temporary location near Barrio Logan at 16th Street and Newton Avenue.
In a May 5 letter to city officials, San Diego Housing Commission’s CEO Richard Gentry raised the possibility that the 223-bed facility won’t be ready for move-in by Dec. 1 and asked for a contingency plan.
“Connections Housing Downtown is a rehab of an old structure built in 1928 and multiple issues have surfaced such as lead-based paint. However, the development team expects to have the facility completed by the end of December,” Gentry said in a statement Monday.
A temporary location could be necessary “because weather conditions during the winter season threaten the health and safety of those without shelter,” Gentry’s letter stated.
According to the San Diego County Regional Task Force’s last annual report, there are about 1,000 people living on the streets in downtown San Diego.
Each year, choosing a location for a winter homeless shelter is accompanied by heavy debate, with each council member hoping to locate the facilities in a district other than their own.
Council members avoided the fireworks this year.
“The fact that it was done without the drama seen in past years is a welcome improvement and a testament the new tone we're setting at City Hall,” Gloria said.
The Connection Housing Development will be a permanent, year-round facility that will provide other services beyond just shelter.
The city also opens a temporary shelter for veterans in the 2800 block of Sports Arena Boulevard at a cost of about $315,000, according to Gentry’s May 5 letter. The interim Connections housing site near Barrio Logan for non-veterans will cost about $400,000.
Both will be open by late November or early December, officials said Monday.