When the city of San Diego's homeless shelters close on Tuesday, July 1, gone will be 24 so-called "triage beds" where outreach workers—like Kelly Knight with Downtown's Clean & Safe program and the San Diego Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team—have been placing homeless folks temporarily until a more permanent bed can be found. The triage beds are reserved for people at risk of illness, injury or worse should they remain on the street.
In March, City Council President Todd Gloria, who last week described the beds as a "critical component of the shelter system," told me he was looking into private fundraising to cover the cost of the beds. But in May, Mayor Kevin Faulconer added $150,000 to the city budget to pay for 25 beds. Faulconer was able to do this because of a larger-than-expected increase in sales and property taxes. This comes in addition to $1.9 million earmarked for several homeless-services programs.
Faulconer spokesperson Craig Gustafson said the beds will come with "meals, case management and residential staffing." The police department's Homeless Outreach Team, Gustafson said, "will then coordinate with local service providers to connect individuals with permanent supportive housing"—housing that comes with a range of service to ensure people stay housed.
There'll be a two-month gap, though, without the triage beds. The money for the beds was approved as part of the budget in June and Gustafson said that even with an expedited process to find a services provider, it'll be September before everything is finalized.
San Diego's two homeless shelters—one for vets on Sports Arena Boulevard and one for single adults in Barrio Logan—are normally open November through March. When he was elected, former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced plans to keep them open year-round. He put money to do this in the fiscal-year 2014 budget, but it ended up not being enough to cover maintenance and upkeep of the tents. After Filner resigned last August, the city decided to revert back to normal shelter operations. The shelters were supposed to close at the end of March, but the City Council found money to keep them going an extra three months to help transition as many shelter residents as possible into permanent housing. Yesterday, the San Diego Housing Commission announced that between Nov. 23, 2012 and June 23, 2014, 311 people had been placed into permanent housing and another 297 had been placed in longer-term programs at either Connections Housing or St. Vincent de Paul.