A contract to provide funding to three homeless advocacy groups for the operation of temporary homeless shelters in San Diego has been extended to 2020 as the city lays the groundwork to open a fourth shelter.
The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to use more than $11 million to keep three temporary bridge shelters through June 2020. The funding would be split between the Alpha Project, $5.3 million, Veterans Village of San Diego, $3.5 million, and Father Joe's Villages, $2.4 million.
Funding for the bridge shelter program will come from the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) reserves and a federal Moving to Work grant.
The local non-profits provide transitional services like health care, counseling, and drug rehab programs to homeless people. About 675 people each day are provided beds meals, showers, restrooms and 24-hour security between the three shelters.
The bridge shelter program was first announced in September 2017, at the height of a Hepatitis A outbreak affecting the homeless population.
The first two shelters opened in December 2017 on 16th Street and Newton Avenue in downtown San Diego and on Sports Arena Boulevard in the Midway District. The downtown facility is operated by the Alpha Project and houses single adults. The Midway District facility is operated by Veterans Village of San Diego and houses about 200 homeless veterans each day.
The third shelter, operated by the nonprofit Father Joe's Villages, opened at 14th Street and Commercial near the trolley station in the East Village in January 2018 before occupants were moved to San Diego's Golden Hall in April 2019.
Father Joe's Villages will continue to operate the shelter at Golden Hall, meant for families and single women through 2020.
The shelter was meant to be moved into a facility closer to Father Joe's Villages operations at 17th Street and Imperial Avenue but the contract extension has put that plan on hold.
Instead, the city is looking at ways to utilize the site. The council approved working towards opening a fourth shelter but when it would open, who would operate it and where funds would come from are still unknown, according to NBC 7's media partners, the Voice of San Diego.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer sent a pair of tweets after the vote stating he was grateful for the city council's support of the bridge shelter program and commended efforts to open a fourth location.
"We’ll work in collaboration with the Council and Housing Commission to lay the groundwork for a fourth shelter to help even more San Diegans struggling on our streets," the tweets read.
Father Joe's Villages said the move to continue operations at Golden Hall was unexpected, since they had been planning to operate the 17th and Imperial site. The organization released the following statement:
"We are thankful that City Council agreed to extend all three bridge shelter programs for an additional year. We also applaud the City Council's action toward the possibility of a fourth bridge shelter. With thousands of men, women and families on our streets, decisive action must be taken to address this humanitarian crisis in our community.
However, today's decision to keep the shelter for families and single women at Golden Hall was unexpected. We continue to believe that greater proximity to the comprehensive services at our main campus is in the best long-term interests of the families we serve. Following today's decision, we remain committed to meeting the needs of women and families who are homeless as effectively as possible in the current Golden Hall location. We also look forward to learning more about how continued operations at both Golden Hall and 17th and Imperial will be funded."