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Council Votes to Keep Winter Homeless Shelter Downtown

(SAN DIEGO) -- Speakers from several areas of the City turned out to oppose the imposition of a winter homeless shelter being located in their neighborhood. In the end, the City Council voted to keep the shelter downtown, near social and medical services.

The council voted 6-2 to place the tent at the same East Village site at 15th Street and Island where last year’s shelter was located, provided an agreement can be reached with the property owner. If not, this year’s shelter will be set up in a vacant warehouse at 13th and F. The 220-bed shelter will open December 2nd and close in late March.

Councilman Kevin Faulconor and Council President Ben Hueso cast the dissenting votes.

Said Faulconer, "We have to have other parts of the city participate"

Bob McElroy, president of the Alpha Project, which operates the shelter, was pleased with the Council’s decision. "The reality is the folks are downtown and the services are downtown."

Councilmember Marti Emerald had suggested locating the shelter inside Golden Hall, the old, underused convention center in the City Administration Complex, which has housed the shelter in past years. “This would be a daily reminder to all City employees that we need to address the issues of homelessness and work on finding a permanent shelter site. The homeless may not have a place to live but they are neither faceless nor nameless. They are people,” Emerald said.

The Council also set into motion an RFP (Request For Proposal) for next year’s winter homeless services as well as a permanent shelter.

“This issue comes up every year and it’s time to step up and create a solution,” said Emerald. “We need to start looking at homelessness from a holistic view.”