SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Council Tuesday voted to extend the ‘Bridge Shelter’ program, that provides beds and services for nearly 700 homeless individuals every night.
The operating contracts for three homeless shelters will be extended through June 2019 and significant changes will be implemented to help improve performance. The city has contracts with Father Joe’s Villages, Veterans Village of San Diego and the Alpha Project.
The shelters are a key piece of Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s “Connect, Support, House” strategy to reduce homelessness and will continue to serve up to 674 homeless individuals every day with beds, meals, showers, restrooms, 24-hour security, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job training as well as help to find permanent housing.
“We are less than a year into this new Bridge Shelter program and we can see more clearly now how they are helping and what we can do to make them work even better,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We all agree that getting those folks into permanent housing is the goal, but we simply don’t have enough affordable housing available. While we wait for those units to be built, these shelters are helping people, caring for them and treating them with respect and dignity as human beings every day.”
Since they opened in December and January, over 300 individuals have moved through the Bridge Shelters and into permanent or long-term housing. That fell below initial expectations because far fewer individuals were already matched to a housing resource, like a voucher or rapid rehousing subsidy, than originally thought and, therefore, weren’t ready to find a permanent home.
Instead, most of the individuals staying at the Bridge Shelters had a myriad of challenges, from mental illness to addiction to physical limitations. Armed with more accurate data about the homeless population being served, several changes were made to improve operations.
Each Bridge Shelter will replace housing navigators with more skilled case managers and housing specialists to better align with the specific needs of the populations in each location. Additional training in prevention and diversion, trauma informed are, motivational interviewing and harm reduction are also part of the new contracts.