Last of three large tent shelters opens in East Village

SAN DIEGO - The last of three large tent shelters for San Diego's homeless opened in the East Village Thursday morning.

The bridge shelter is designed to host families and single women and will house up to 150 people each day. It is operated by Father Joes Villages and will offer services specifically geared toward families and their children.

"These bridge shelters are giving hundreds of homeless folks who want to turn their lives around the opportunity to do so," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "This new shelter is a safe place for families and women who had nowhere else to go. It will provide the stability they need as they work toward finding a home to call their own."

There are several child-centered services specific to this shelter, including access to daycare, behavioral interventions, speech and language therapy, a teen club and literacy services.

Like the other two shelters, this one at 14th and Commercial streets includes 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.

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 is located in the Midway District and is designed to serve veterans. It is run by Veterans Village of San Diego.

The East Village shelter will be open through November. Father Joe's Villages in early 2019 plans to build permanent supportive housing on the site.

"As we prepare to build permanent homes to address the shortage of affordable housing for those who are homeless, setting up this temporary shelter on our available lot is simply the right thing to do," says Deacon Jim Vargas, president of Father Joe's Villages. "Our community's homelessness crisis demands both forward thinking and immediate action."

The three bridge shelters have brought the number of shelter beds in San Diego to 2,040, according to the mayor's office.