The city of San Diego Thursday opened its newest shelter for residents experiencing homelessness -- a 40-bed facility in the East Village with a focus on women with serious medical conditions who need a safe place to recover.
Mayor Todd Gloria helped open the shelter, Rachel's Promise, a collaboration between the city's Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and the San Diego Housing Commission. It will be operated under contract with the SDHC by the Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego and will offer housing navigation assistance, meals, laundry facilities, showers, mail and telephone services and clothing.
"Rachel's Promise is our latest effort to bring online more shelter beds to get more people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into care," Gloria said. "This is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce homelessness, which is built around increasing street outreach, providing diverse shelter options, creating new pathways to behavioral health care and building affordable housing.
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"This work requires all hands on deck, and I'm grateful that Catholic Charities has partnered with us in our effort to move vulnerable folks off the streets and put them on a path to housing and a better future," he said.
For nearly four decades, Catholic Charities has increased its services to assist people experiencing homelessness. In addition to the new women's shelter, the organization also operates the existing Rachel's Women's Center and Night Shelter across the street from Rachel's Promise, as well as programs such as the 100-bed La Posada shelter in Carlsbad, the 50-bed Our Lady of Guadalupe shelter in Calexico, the 24-bed House of Hope shelter in El Centro and soon a Homeless Day Center in El Centro that will serve 250 individuals daily.
"Rachel's Promise represents the best of faith-based and civic cooperation to assist the women of our society facing multiple complex barriers to housing -- a partnership of Catholic Charities and the city of San Diego that will provide shelter and love," said Robert W. McElroy, Cardinal- designate, Bishop of San Diego. "As Catholic Charities, we must always remember that Jesus and his family were homeless when he entered the world. And from that fact should come an enduring commitment to all those who are unsheltered and dispossessed."
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One of Gloria's stated goals for his administration was to increase the number of shelter beds in the city. According to his office, the total shelter capacity has increased by 25% since April 1, 2021.
New shelters opened during this time include the 44-bed C-HRT Harm Reduction Shelter in Midway for people struggling with substance abuse and other behavioral health challenges and the Palm Avenue Interim Shelter in the South Bay, which prioritizes seniors with access to housing resources.
"Rachel's Promise is yet another option the city is providing to help women off the streets and into shelter," said City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, who represents District 3, which includes downtown. "We will also help them find permanent housing and connect them with services."
Later this summer, the city and county plan to open the Midway District Bridge Shelter, which will provide roughly 120 beds, and the C-HRT Safe Haven, a 22-bed facility with private rooms for people with more acute behavioral health needs.
San Diego also is making one of its three Safe Parking lots a 24-hour facility, and efforts are underway to site a pilot Safe Camping program for seniors 60 and older in the downtown area.
"The opening of this program means more vulnerable women experiencing homelessness will have opportunities to move into shelter and receive the services they need," said Jeff Davis, SDHC's interim president and CEO. "This is an important step on the journey to longer-term or permanent housing."