Housing commission approves contract for women’s homeless shelter

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A woman sleeps as another sits on her cot in a homeless shelter inside the San Diego Convention Center Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in San Diego. When the coronavirus emerged in the United States this year, public health officials and advocates for the homeless feared the virus would rip through shelters and tent encampments, ravaging vulnerable people who often have chronic health issues. Yet, the virus so far does not appear to have brought devastation to the homeless population as many feared. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego Housing Commission’s Board of Commissioners Friday unanimously approved a $314,921 contract to operate a new Bishop Maher Interim Shelter for single women at Father Joe’s Villages through June 30.

The interim shelter is intended to house and provide comprehensive services to 28 women daily. The board voted 7-0 to approve the contract, which has two one-year options to renew.

“Our top priorities at the city of San Diego are to keep all of us safe from the COVID-19 virus and to work toward providing everyone with a secure place to call home,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “The Bishop Maher Interim Shelter will be an important step toward achieving our goals, and I thank Father Joe’s Villages and the San Diego Housing Commission for their partnership.”

Those residing at the shelter — located at the Bishop Maher Center at Father Joe’s Villages’ East Village campus — will have access to the homeless service provider’s programs to help them transition out of homelessness and into permanent housing, including meals, employment services, case management and health services.

“At Father Joe’s Villages, we believe that all people are worthy of dignity and respect. No one deserves to live in fear or be forced to brave the elements because they have nowhere else to go,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of the services provider.

The COVID-19 health and economic crisis has increased the need to move neighbors off the street and into safe, sanitized shelter that will offer support in building self-sufficiency. The 28 beds at the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter will help the organization provide short-term shelter to 28 women, on top of the more than 2,100 people they serve each night through their housing programs and shelters.

The Bishop Maher Interim Shelter will operate as part of San Diego’s Operation Shelter to Home Initiative to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on people experiencing homelessness.

The additional shelter beds at the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter are intended to support efforts to help people leave homelessness behind for good, while observing preemptive health measures to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among staff, volunteers and residents.

“These shelter beds will be an important resource among an essential range of housing options necessary to address homelessness in San Diego and will provide opportunities for a pathway to permanent or longer-term housing,” SDHC President and CEO Richard C. Gentry said.

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