Hundreds more move into convention center homeless shelter


SAN DIEGO — Hundreds more people are moving into the San Diego Convention Center’s temporary homeless shelter Tuesday, bringing the total people living at the facility to around 800.

As each person is moved into the center they will be screened for any symptoms of coronavirus, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in an update Tuesday. Those with symptoms will instead be taken to motel and hotel rooms freed up in the city to help isolate and treat unsheltered people.

Golden Hall is being used in a similar fashion.

Meanwhile, people placed in the convention center will have security services, meals, showers, laundry and regular health screenings, Faulconer said. The goal of opening up the convention center is to help relieve crowding in existing city shelters that don’t have the space to allow for proper social distancing.

The waterfront facility will ultimately have capacity for about 1,500 people, and Faulconer has acknowledged the biggest challenge will be getting people currently living on the street (as opposed to already in shelters) to see the benefits of heading to the convention center.

“The education component is extremely important,” the mayor said last week. The city’s strategy is to increase the number of outreach teams on the streets informing unsheltered people about the risks of coronavirus, and telling them that help is available.

A team of case managers and housing experts will also be available to work with people at the convention center to find a long-term home. As they do, officials hope it will open up more beds at shelters and make social distancing easier.

Both city and county funds are going toward the shelter, Faulconer said, and officials view the convention center as a “regional project.” That could mean ultimately bringing people to the shelter from elsewhere in the county, though the initial focus is on the urban center of San Diego.

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