SAN DIEGO — A newly proposed homeless shelter has been identified near San Diego International Airport, known locally as H Barracks.
The dilapidated former military barracks was abandoned decades ago and now the city wants to raze the area to create a camping site for as many as 700 homeless people. The area is bordered by Harbor Island and Esplanade Canal just along the Liberty Station community.
“When there’s women walking their dogs, feeling perfectly safe to get some exercise along the waterway, and then envision what that will look like when you put 700 homeless population right next door. The benches are going to be taken over, there’s possibly going to be paraphernalia in the playgrounds. I just think it will completely change the dynamic of this incredible community,” said Jennifer Senn, a resident of Liberty Station.
Neighbors in the area are pushing back, creating a petition at Change.org to alter the planned homeless shelter site. So far, the petition has gathered over 2,300 signatures and frustration with the city plans is only growing.
“They may also want to use the airport terminals as their personal home away from home, because they are cool, air conditioned, clean bathrooms, plenty of places to lay down and take a nap,” said Michael Posner, another resident of Liberty Station.
The city is racing to find more beds for San Diego’s homeless in order to be able to enforce the city’s ban on urban camping.
Mayor Todd Gloria’s office released the following statement:
“Homelessness is a crisis, and we need to provide safe places for people to get out of street encampments and connected with services that will help them end their homelessness. We’ve created several facilities across our city with great success – and in partnership with the communities hosting them. As noted in our comprehensive shelter strategy, H Barracks is the most viable site for a facility with both shelter and onsite resources. We have about a year’s worth of site prep to do, and during that time we’ll be engaging with the community on how we can work together to address our city’s biggest challenge.”