SAN DIEGO – A former motel acquired by the city in a 2017 deal will temporarily be used as a transitional shelter for San Diegans experiencing homelessness, Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said Friday.

Twenty-two rooms are available in the Palm Avenue shelter, operated by City Net, with the priority for those ages 55 and older. They are largely intended for those who have “access to rapid rehousing assistance, a pathway to permanent supportive housing or a housing voucher,” according to the mayor’s office.

As of Friday, 17 seniors who have vouchers and are awaiting permanent housing are housed at the site.

“I’ve promised San Diegans we’d leave no stone unturned as we create more opportunities for unsheltered folks to come off the streets, and the Palm Avenue interim shelter is a perfect example of that approach,” Gloria said in a statement.

The mayor added, “We’ll continue to turn unused City assets into shelter whenever possible to give unhoused people a chance to connect with the services and resources they need to end their homelessness.”

The homelessness issue continues to be a challenge for lawmakers in the region and California in general. Recent data from the 2022 WeAllCount Point-in-Time Count shows homelessness is up at least 10% in San Diego County with volunteers tallying some 8,427 people living in shelters and elsewhere.

It is said to be a conservative count due to the challenges of locating every unhoused San Diegan, but it lays bare the result of community unaffordability and deficiencies in the mental health system, among others.

Gloria called homelessness his “highest priority” in this year’s State of the City Address. His efforts include joining California’s big-city mayors to call for the extension of funding paid from the Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention program to supporting the development of a new bridge shelter on county-owned land in the Midway District that was donated and facilitated by the Lucky Duck Foundation.

But his administration also draws criticism from homeless advocates for its aggressive approach to breaking up roadside encampments, as was the case this week in East Village, the Union-Tribune reported.

The Palm Avenue facility was purchased during Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s administration and refurbished for use by the diversion program launched by the City Attorney’s Office known as the San Diego Misdemeanants At-Risk Track. Gloria’s office noted it was used to house homeless residents during the worst period of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently operated as a non-congregate shelter.

It will be used in an interim capacity likely until the fall when the diversion program launches, his office said.

Shelter referrals are expected to come from area providers, including San Diego County, the San Diego Housing Commission, PATH, Father Joe’s Villages and Alpha Project.