The unusually frigid temperatures in San Diego mean all of our region’s homeless shelters are full, and shelter staffers are doing everything they can to provide more room.
Temperatures on New Year’s Eve dipped into the 30s in downtown San Diego, forcing many of the estimated 4,000 people who live on the streets to find a warm place to stay for the night.
St. Vincent de Paul Village, an inclement weather shelter on Imperial Avenue, opened Tuesday night and will be open through Thursday night for those needing to escape the cold.
Already full, the shelter has placed cots and mats in its two dining rooms to accommodate the influx of visitors and is among a network of shelters and churches making room for additional people.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” said Jesse Casement, operator of St. Vincent de Paul. “As long as we have space, we’re not going to turn anyone away.”
The makeshift shelter room comes with strict rules. Check-in is only available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a lights-out order for 9 p.m. and a wakeup call at 4 a.m., so staff can have the dining room clear by 5 a.m.
Casement said some of the homeless are new to the streets, so it’s especially scary when temperatures dip so low for San Diego.
“To see the families and know they’re sleeping with their kids on the streets is heartbreaking,” Casement said. “And we want to get those people off the streets as much as we can and fill their bellies with warm food and make sure they have a safe place to sleep.”
Tuesday night, St. Vincent de Paul took in a larger crowd than usual for the first night of an emergency shelter: nearly 120 people.
The emergency shelter typically opens when the weather dips below 50 degrees and there’s a 40 percent chance of rain.