City works to expand accommodation options for homeless people in inclement weather

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Mayor Todd Gloria announced Wednesday that the city is working with service providers to increase the number of shelters available for homeless San Diego residents during inclement weather.

Over the past few weeks, the city’s Department of Homeless Strategies and Solutions, the San Diego Housing Commission, and the Regional Homelessness Task Force have been in contact with providers, including Project Alpha, Father Joe’s Villages, People Assisting the Homeless, San Diego Rescue Mission and other organizations. to identify sites to add beds.

“Expanding accommodation options to more homeless San Diego, especially as we enter the coldest, wettest season of the year, is essential,” Gloria said. “By working with groups across our city, we will be able to offer more people the chance to enter a warm and clean environment on the cold and rainy days when they need it most,” he said. -he declares.

Gloria has made tackling homelessness a core part of her administration, and the need to place the homeless in a safe haven – especially in bad weather – was made clear earlier this year.

On March 15, a 72-year-old man was charged with driving a station wagon that crashed into a homeless encampment on the San Diego sidewalk on B Street near San Diego City College, killing three people and injuring several others.

Craig Martin Voss has been charged with three counts of manslaughter while driving a impaired vehicle and one count of driving under the influence of drugs causing injury in connection with the accident, which s ‘occurs on a rainy morning.

The accused’s Volvo struck the victims after it veered onto the sidewalk just after 9 a.m. under an overpass on B Street, investigators said. A prosecutor alleged Tuesday that Voss’s vehicle had only stopped because so much debris was trapped under the front wheels, preventing the Volvo from going any further.

Rodney Diffendal, 40, was killed in the crash; Randy Ferris, 65; and Walter Jones, 61.

Since the accident, Gloria’s administration has attempted to expand the city’s accommodation beds to keep homeless people out of dangerous areas.

The collaborative approach announced on Wednesday began with the addition of 65 beds to activate in the event of inclement weather – 55 at the Paul Mirable center at Father Joe’s Villages and 10 beds operated by the San Diego Rescue Mission. Additional sites are being evaluated by the city, RTFH and SDHC for even more capacity.

“This is the kind of inter-agency collaboration we need to help people get off the streets and find shelter,” said Board Chairman Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn.

The criteria for activating additional beds are a temperature of 50 degrees or less and a probability of rain of 40% or a temperature of 45 degrees or less, regardless of the risk of rain or in exceptional weather conditions, such as one or more inches of rain within 24 hours and high sustained winds.

“No San Diegan should have to sleep on streets where they are subjected to inclement weather, including cold and humidity,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, President and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “As a community, we need to come together to make sure our neighbors are not left behind during the winter months. “

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many shelters operated with reduced capacities to ensure greater physical distance and prevent the potential spread of the virus. As staffing levels allowed, the city and SDHC worked with service providers to continue to increase the daily use capacities of the shelters.

“Increasing the availability of shelter options in multiple locations when we have cold, rainy and windy weather is critical for our homeless residents,” said Tamera Kohler, CEO of RTFH. “By working with new and existing suppliers, we can provide a dry, warm and secure shelter to meet people’s needs in inclement weather, reducing the potential for life-threatening health issues. “

Earlier this fall, an additional 60 beds were opened at an urban hideaway operated by Alpha Project at 16th Street and Newton Avenue. Earlier this week, Father Joe’s Village opened 35 additional beds at its Paul Mirable center.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.


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