The Centre City Development Corporation is getting creative as it considers remedies for the city’s homeless problem.
CCDC officials have met with local Navy administrators to discuss the possibility of converting a decommissioned warship into a permanent shelter, complete with supportive and rehabilitative services, to house some of the city’s thousands of homeless.
“It’s very, very preliminary and we’re just doing some research,” said Jeff Graham, CCDC vice president of redevelopment.
Graham said the agency was monitoring the efforts of a nonprofit religious organization in Hawaii that has been working to acquire the retired destroyer USS Acadia, docked in Oahu’s Pearl Harbor, for a similar use.
Federal law currently only provides for three uses for decommissioned warships. They can be sold to an allied nation, used as sinks to create manmade reefs, or donated to nonprofits for conversion to museums. Turning a warship into housing would require an act of Congress to change the federal law.
In Hawaii, the Navy responded to the project’s proponents by asking for a hazardous material remediation analysis and detailed business plans.
None of that has happened in San Diego, but according to Graham, CCDC representatives have met with port officials to discuss whether the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal could be a viable site for any future floating shelter. CCDC is waiting for a response.
The city of San Diego is currently reviewing proposals from would-be developers of a one-stop shelter and service center for homeless and extremely low income San Diego residents. Graham said the warship could be one element of a broader regional effort to address homelessness.
Any action is a long way off, Graham said.
“It certainly isn’t a slam dunk.” It could, though, “be a piece of the puzzle as part of the plan to end chronic homelessness,” he said.