More than $7 million in emergency state funding has been secured for the San Diego region to help protect the homeless population amid the coronavirus pandemic, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday.
The region has been granted $7.1 million, and the largest chunk of it, $3.7 million, is going to the city of San Diego to help fund Operation Shelter to Home at the downtown convention center, Faulconer said.
The rest will be split into two - $1.6 million for San Diego County and $1.7 million for the Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
Tuesday morning, Faulconer and city leaders said that more than 800 homeless individuals would be sheltered at the convention center by Wednesday.
“I had a chance to tour the convention center and the space and to see where individuals will be able to get healthy meals and to wash their hands, use the restroom in dignity, and shower and do laundry,” Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins said.
In the next few days, individuals who have been housed at Golden Hall will be moved to the convention center. Those who have chronic health conditions will be housed at Father Joe’s PMC facility, where they can receive medical support.
“What was once one of San Diego’s largest economic drivers is now one of its most powerful symbols of hope,” Faulconer said Tuesday afternoon.
State lawmakers said they hope these recent efforts will help unsheltered San Diegans escape the cycle of homelessness, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Assemblyman Todd Gloria said it would be “my fervid hope and it would be my prayer that at the backend of this crisis, not only will we have taken our homeless off the streets for the period of the emergency, but that we will find them permanent homes in this community so they will not return to our streets. I think that's a worthy goal for us to set for ourselves.''
The city also reached an agreement with the county, homelessness task force and the San Diego Housing Commission detailing roles, responsibilities and financial terms for Operation Shelter to Home. The city will act as the fiscal agent for its $3.7 million grant and will also manage funds from the county and the homelessness task force.