San Diego

East Village Residents Concerned Over Low-Income Housing Project

A new low-income housing project proposed by Father Joe’s Villages has some East Village residents concerned it will only increase the number of homeless people living on their neighborhood streets.

Wednesday, the Civic San Diego Board of Directors unanimously approved the design of the project.

The project, set to be built at the corner of 14th and Commercial streets in East Village, is designed to be 16 stories high and have 444 units. It would cater to people who make between $19,000 and $30,000 a year.

But residents say 200 of the 444 proposed units would be permanent supportive housing, aimed at those who need 24-hour care and may suffer from severe mental illness.

“Permanent means you go in there and you don’t come out. It’s not transitional,” said Gary Smith, President of the Downtown Residents Group.

According to Smith, downtown already has 850 permanent supportive housing units, which make up the large majority of the 1,000 units found in San Diego County. If 200 additional permanent housing units are added to East Village, it would further skew the ratio between the amount downtown and the amount everywhere else.

“That is not a good thing,” Smith said. “It should be spread much more widely so you don’t have a concentration of people with the same issues.”

He along with other East Village residents say they don’t mind having low-income housing in their neighborhood, but they want homeless individuals to be spread to other areas in the county and to other zip codes.

One reason so many homeless congregate in East Village is because it is the area with the most social services, which includes Father Joe’s Villages.

The proposed project will still need to have funding approved. The cost is estimated to be $145 million, most of which would come from public funds.

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