San Diego

Mayor's Supportive Housing Plan for Mission Hills Library Sparks Debate

Emotions ran high as the Mission Hills community met Tuesday to discuss the mayor's proposal to turn the neighborhood’s library into permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to turn the library on West Washington Avenue, and seven other available city properties, into supportive housing to help ease the city's homeless crisis.

The plan would convert the old library, which is now closed and boarded up, into a 28-unit complex that would include social services for each of its residents. Many Mission Hills residents, however, have other ideas.

Getting people off San Diego streets and into decent homes is something most everyone agrees needs to be done, but not everyone agrees on how.

Tuesday’s meeting was standing room only as residents aired their frustrations with the problems associated with homelessness.

"There's needles, someone has deficiated on my property, or I am asking someone to get off my property,” one resident said.

“I live at Washington and Hawk. I can't tell you how many people are passed out. I got a sex offender masturbating in public. Kids walk past him every day,” another said.

Some residents fear the mayor's proposal is only asking for more of the same trouble.

“I think the majority of the people here feel this is completely inappropriate for the heart of the business district... Speak for yourself," a speaker added.

A permanent supportive housing complex is not a rehab center or homeless shelter. Some at the meeting are already living in such dwellings.

"We have a chance with this kind of housing to get ahead of the game and start making changes that bring people off the street and into real housing," one advocate of the plan said.

The city says residents would be screened, and felons and sex offenders won’t be allowed. Each of the units would be roughly 500 square feet and house only one person.

"Part of what makes this a community is we care about other folks in our community and folks who need permeant supportive housing do live here, and we really need to be a part of the solution," another advocate explained.

Mayor Faulconer was not present for the meeting, but District 3 Councilman Chris Ward says the mayor was invited.

Ward says the City Council is not involved in the decision-making process for the library, but he’s urging his constituents to let the city administration know what’s on their minds.

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