City leaders gathered Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center to mark the end of the temporary shelter that housed hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children since the spring.
Migrant children and teenagers seeking asylum in the U.S. began to move into the home of Comic-Con San Diego in late March. Kids were given a place to sleep, to shower, food, health screenings, educational exercises and recreational activities at the facility.
San Diego Convention Center
More on how the facility operated during the height of the pandemic.
The unaccompanied children lived at the center while they waited to be reunited with family elsewhere in the country or moved into sponsor homes. From March through the shelter’s end on Thursday, more than 2,400 children and teens were reunited with family, according to the city.
So what’s next for the downtown staple? With COVID-19 vaccines widely available and the end of California’s color-coded tiered system that mandated indoor capacities, the convention center is nearly ready to once again welcome the public and host events.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said convention center workers were employed throughout the shelter’s duration.
“We don't have to scramble to find workers right now,” he said. “We know that many employers are scrambling to find quality employees to help them do their work. We are ready to go.”
“People who were previously serving homeless individuals, serving unaccompanied minors, who will now welcome the rest of the world to our beautiful city,” he added.
Prior to housing migrant children, the Convention Center served as a shelter for hundreds of houseless San Diegans.
In preparation for the convention center’s first event, which is scheduled for the first week of August, the facility is in the process of being deep-cleaned to ensure it is safe for the public.
“We are making sure that it's in tip-top shape so that when we welcome our first convention back here in just a few days, we'll have a wonderfully clean facility to welcome them with the world-class staff that is here,” Gloria said.