City arranges to shelter more homeless during cold nights

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SAN DIEGO — The winter tent shelters in Barrio Logan and Midway District are a thing of the past, but San Diego officials said Monday the city is making arrangements to shelter 250 homeless people during the coldest nights of the upcoming winter.

When extremely cold weather hits, 200 transients will be brought indoors to the dining room at Father Joe’s Villages, while another 50 will be put up at the Neil Good Day Center, a city-funded facility where the homeless can wash up, charge phones and handle other needs.

The plans were unveiled as Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilman Todd Gloria and Father Joe’s said more homeless are being helped through an indoor housing program that launched in April than before.

Those tents housed more than 300 single homeless adults and veterans nightly from November through March. Since most tent residents came and went, more than 1,100 total were served in the tents last winter, according to the San Diego Housing Commission.

The city is on pace to help more than 2,700 homeless under the indoor housing program, which is funded by the city and operated by Father Joe’s Villages at its Paul Mirabile Center,

“Everyone deserves a roof over their head and the opportunity for a better life, and that’s what we’re providing now on a year-round basis,” Faulconer said.

“These successes are a direct result of the city’s new strategy of focusing on programs that actually end the cycle of homelessness,” the mayor said. “We’re helping more homeless individuals than ever before, evidence that this new approach is a game-changer.”

City officials said 52 percent of those who enter the program at Father Joe’s are moving into permanent housing, twice the rate as in the tents. The cost to the city per bed has also lowered, from $29.10 to $13.78, compared to the temporary tents.

“As seen through the interim housing program and the inclement weather plan, we are making significant progress working collaboratively as a community to address the immediate needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, while supporting long-term solutions to permanently end the cycle of homelessness,” Gloria said.

The program provides 350 beds per night for the homeless, with up to 40 percent set aside for veterans. The facility also provides three meals each day, 24-hour residential and security service and supportive programs to stabilize lives.

A person at Helix Charter School was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and may have exposed others, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.

HHSA is working closely with school officials to notify anyone who was possibly exposed to the disease between Aug. 5 and Nov. 13. Free testing for students who may have been exposed will take place on Dec. 1 at the school, located at 7323 University Avenue in La Mesa.

Symptoms of active TB include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss.

“Most people who are exposed to TB do not develop the disease, but those that do develop symptoms can be treated and cured with medication,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “That’s why it’s important to identify those who have been exposed.”

TB in not uncommon in the San Diego region but has been decreasing in recent years. To date, 184 cases have been reported in 2015. In 2014, 220 cases were reported in the county and in 2013, 206 cases were reported – the lowest number since local TB case peaked at 469 in 1993.

For more information on this potential exposure, call the County TB Control Program at (619) 692-8621.

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