SAN DIEGO — One of San Diego’s first “safe sleeping sites” operating since July 28 is at near-capacity.

The Golden Hill location is run by an organization called Dreams For Change and is part of the City of San Diego’s larger plan to tackle the homeless crisis by banning encampments in public areas.

“We have about 120 tents right now that are full and we will be putting in the next 10 to 15 tents between today and tomorrow,” Teresa Smith, CEO of Dreams for Change, said to FOX 5 on Tuesday.

Smith says there’s a waiting list of more than 80 people. Residents have access to shelter, showers, meals and resources. 

“People say that is just a big drug and alcohol, mental health issue, OK, that’s 20% of the population that are on the streets. We’ve got another 80% that don’t fall into that. That’s truly just a housing issue,” Smith added.

And that’s exactly what happened to Keith Johnson. Emergency surgery led to loss of work and his eviction, forcing him to live in his van.  

“The police took my van, so then I didn’t have anything, so now I’m thinking, I have to really start thinking about my life for real. I’m not going to be out here like this,” Johnson said to FOX 5.

He spent two years on the streets in Kearny Mesa before he says he was rescued.

“So I’m sleeping on the streets now, so Isaiah from PATH, he came and said, hey, how are you doing, do you know you can get off the streets right now, we can take you in and you can have a better life. And that’s all I wanted to hear, really.” 

Tina Smith has an even more dire story: the violent death of her daughter lead to her downward spiral. She was eventually living along the riverbed in Mission Valley.

“Depression, it’s hard to lose a child that way, and so I cut back on my rent and I spiraled down from there. I isolated a lot and shut off from everybody and everything,” Smith said to FOX 5.

She eventually lost everything – all her possessions and was living in a tent on the streets with another woman who was also caring for a child.

“There were no shelter beds available anywhere,” Smith added. “We went everywhere and we got turned away turned away, so what else are we to do?”