It’s been two weeks since the tent-like structures the city’s used for nearly 30 years to shelter homeless adults and military vets during winter months came down for the last time.
Replacing the tents is a 350-bed, year-round, bricks-and-mortar shelter in St. Vincent de Paul’s Paul Mirable Center in East Village. Roughly 100 people moved from the tents into the PMC on April 1; another 250 are expected to move in by July 1. Up to 40 percent of the beds will be set aside for veterans.
A continuation of the winter tents — let alone a year-round shelter — wasn’t supposed to be in the city’s future. Only a few years ago, the plan was for Connections Housing, with its 134 short-term-stay beds and 73 units of permanent-supportive housing, to replace the adult winter shelter when it opened in 2013. But the city’s evolving approach to ending homelessness, plus a boost in tax revenues, resulted in money to keep the tents open. Roughly $1.5 million from the city’s general fund will cover the shelter’s $1.8 million annual operating cost.
This is homelessness we’re talking about, though, so the move is not without controversy. At a March City Council meeting, public speakers questioned whether St. Vincent de Paul was the right provider for the job and why the shelter’s operating plan called for stays to be limited to 45 days. The shelter’s 350 beds are replacing a program that’s being phased out, folks argued, meaning it’s not adding to the city’s supply of emergency beds. Meanwhile, a group of private developers is looking at whether a building just outside of downtown can become the shelter that’ll finally put a dent in San Diego’s homeless population.
Here are four things to keep in mind amid all the changes.
The new shelter doesn’t necessarily boost the city’s number of available beds.
For the last several years, the PMC’s 350 beds, arranged barracks-style and separated by cubicles, have been used for transitional housing — a short-term program intended to be a person’s final step out of homelessness.
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Wow, great to see Kelly Davis in writing! Great article. Truly the issue of the lack of affordable housing continues to be the reason we spend all this time shipping the poorest people in our community all over town. San Diego recently received the title of Least Affordable City. This is in large part due to the lack of affordable housing. If poor people cannot locate 30% of income housing (esp. those who are seniors and/or disabled) we will continue to pass by them while they struggle to stay alive on the streets.
Most concerning to us is that this "new" shelter option keeps being touted as a useful way to alter the "illegal Lodging settlement" and begin ticketing homeless people in downtown again. This is not a way to solve this problem.
Jim Lovell, MSW
Third Ave. Charitable Org. Inc.
A couple who were in the Downtown Homeless Tent when it closed for good on April 1, 2015, were not lucky enough to get into the Paul Mirable Center (PMC) initial relocation, and had to spend these last 13 days living in Tents on our sidewalks by the I-5 Overpass at 17th Street and Commercial. Violence erupted, the man was killed, and the women is in jail at Los Colinas for murder.
Just last week the City Council and Civic San Diego gave away $11.9 million in Successor Housing Entity's Low Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund (LMIHAF) Cash because of a failure to spend the $27 million in new FY-2014 Revenue in a timely fashion.
Homeless advocates asked for the Downtown Homeless and Veterans Tents to be extended until July 1, 2015, when the Paul Mirable Center (PMC) would open up all 350 beds for those displace from the Tents' closing.