Last month, San Diego business leaders said they had raised money to fund two large tent shelters to get homeless people temporarily off the streets, but it is now up to elected officials to determine what happens next. Dan Shea, a chain restaurant operator and partner at Paradigm Investment Group, LLC, and San Diego Padres Managing Partner Peter Seidler held a news conference at the University of San Diego to announce that private donors have contributed more than enough for two large industrial tents, which would each cost about $800,000 to buy and erect. Each tent would hold about 250 people, and Shea said the plan is to put up as many as needed and leave them up until permanent housing is found for the homeless they serve. Their effort would bring back the types of tents the city had used in its winter shelter program, which was abandoned about three years ago in favor of year-round housing at Father Joe’s Villages. Seidler stated,
The number of homeless and unsheltered is rising. The number of deaths is rising. The number of serious illness is rising, and the time is now to act, to start reversing those numbers.
Unfortunately, those earlier tents, which were donated by the San Diego Unified Port District, are no longer available because they were recycled by the port a couple years ago after the city’s housing policy changed. An annual count of the homeless in San Diego County this year found 5,621 people were unsheltered, an increase of 14 percent from last year, and 3,495 were in shelters, a decrease of 6 percent. However, San Diego’s shift from shelters toward a “housing first” approach hurt homeless people because there is a need for a temporary solution now, due to there not being enough available permanent housing to meet the county’s needs. Earlier this year, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the city plans to spend $12.5 million to create a homeless intake center that will include a number of beds for temporary shelter. Hopefully, the elected officials are able to choose a location for the tents to provide the homeless people with a temporary shelter, while more permanent housing are being built.