Homeless tent plan gains traction with civic leaders

SAN DIEGO – Leaders of a plan to erect industrial-sized tents to house San Diego’s burgeoning homeless population announced Monday that more than 200 people have endorsed the proposal, including many civic leaders.

Peter Seidler, part of the Padres ownership team, and restaurateur Dan Shea describe their plan as a bridge to the “Housing First” model being adopted across the country to address the homelessness problem.

In Housing First, the homeless not only get off the streets but are also provided necessary social services like substance abuse treatment, health care and job counseling.

Seidler and Shea first announced their plan last month. Among those announcing their backing of the proposal were philanthropist Malin Burnham, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Mark Cafferty, developer Doug Manchester and Kris Michell, who heads the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and county Supervisor Ron Roberts also signed on to the plan.

In January’s annual tally of the area’s transient population, 5,619 homeless individuals were counted in the city of San Diego, a 10.3 percent increase from last year. Of those, 3,231 were living on the streets.

City and county officials have responded recently with a series of proposals on how to address both homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.

The city of San Diego funded a cold-weather shelter in a tented structure in Barrio Logan for around 30 years. It was shut down for the last time two years ago in favor of a permanent facility run by Father Joe’s Villages.