Tent shelter opens for San Diego homeless

SAN DIEGO — The second of three large tent shelters for San Diego’s homeless opened in the Midway District Friday morning.

The temporary bridge shelter is designed to house up to 200 veterans a day. It is operated by Veterans Village of San Diego and will provide easy access to veteran-specific programs for those staying in the shelter.

“Some of these heroes who find themselves in desperate situations, now have another place they can turn,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “Under this roof, hundreds of men and women will find relief from the elements and the dignity they deserve while trained housing navigators work to connect them with a permanent home.”

Services specific to this shelter include access to veterans housing programs from several federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Like the other two shelters, this one on Sports Arena Boulevard includes offers meals, storage, showers, bathrooms, laundry services, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and mental health services, according to the mayor’s office.

Each resident will be assigned a case manager and housing navigator who will develop a plan to get them permanently housed.

Veterans Village of San Diego ran a similar tent shelter during the cold weather months until a couple of years ago.

The winter shelter program was ended in favor of more permanent solutions, but the area’s homeless population grew rapidly.

City officials were pressured to act by an outbreak of hepatitis A that killed 20 people and sickened hundreds — about two-thirds of whom were either homeless, users of illegal drugs or both. The rate of new infections has slowed in recent weeks.

The first tent shelter, for single adults, opened Dec. 1 at 16th Street and Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan and is run by the nonprofit Alpha Project.

The other will be located in the East Village and be operated by Father Joe’s Villages. Designed for families, city officials hope to have it open by the end of the month.