$6.5 Million Price Tag for San Diego’s New Homeless Shelters Sparks Debate - NBC 7 San Diego

$6.5 Million Price Tag for San Diego’s New Homeless Shelters Sparks Debate

If approved by the San Diego City Council on Nov. 13, these homeless shelters would house 700 people

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    $6.5 Million Price Tag for New Homeless Shelters

    If approved by the San Diego City Council on Nov. 13, the shelters would house around 700 people. NBC 7's Alex Presha reports. 

    (Published Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017)

    The hefty $6.5 million price tag for the City of San Diego’s three new homeless shelters is causing some people to second-guess the approach to fixing the homeless problem.

    The San Diego Housing Commission announced the price tag in a budget proposal Friday. Reaction followed.

    "It kind of makes you wonder if we can do a little bit better with that kind of money," homeless advocate Michael McConnell told NBC 7.

    McConnell believes the proposal did not sufficiently lay out goals to justify the high cost.

    "There should be stated outcomes and performance measurements on any homeless project that we're putting money out on -- especially public money,” he said.

    Scott Marshall, of the Housing Commission, said the project needs to begin immediately.

    "There is a need for homeless individuals now, and this is a temporary solution to address the situation, especially in light of the Hepatitis A outbreak in the city," said Marshall.

    When the so-called “bridge shelters” were first proposed earlier this year, they came with a price tag of $17 per person per day.

    The Alpha Project, the local organization that will run one of the three tents, estimates its cost per person per day will be $36. That includes meals, laundry, security, sanitation and social services.

    Still, members of Alpha Project were not completely surprised by the shock from this new price point.

    "Sure, I understand that but what we'll keep going back to saying -- the tax payer burden is way more than what these shelters will cost," said Alpha Project COO Amy Gonyeau.

    Gonyeau said emergency responses to homeless people on the streets of San Diego would decrease significantly with the opening of these shelters.

    She also points out that the solution is still cheaper than many may think.

    "We've done our research. You can't board a dog or a cat for less than $50 a day. These are people; these are human beings," she said.

    If approved by the San Diego City Council, these tents would house 700 homeless. The council will vote on Nov. 13.

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