Tent cities go up to house homeless

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in the country. Facing that unprecedented statistic, the city is teaming up with three non-profit organizations to help the homeless.

A homeless count taken in January found more than 5,600 people are sleeping on the streets. Many were living along the edges of downtown in hand-built encampments and tents. Those are now cleared away following a major city crackdown. The unsanitary conditions were blamed for the Hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20 people and sickened more than 500 others.

For the first time, a tent just for homeless families, including 50 children, will be up and ready for the holidays. Located in a lot at Father Joe's Villages in the East Village, the tent will sleep 150 people and be a permanent solution next year.

The second tent will help another 350 people. That’s being run by the Alpha Project. This tent will be ready starting Friday.

The third tent will be dedicated to 200 veterans and operated by Veterans Village of San Diego. It will be located on Sports Arena Boulevard.

The San Diego Housing Commission and City Council have approved a $6.5 million contract to operate the tents for seven months beginning Dec. 1. The Alpha Project tent will make that deadline. The other two tents will open in an estimated two weeks.