San Diego: “City faces temporary housing challenges for the homeless population,” ABC10

December 16, 2018

By Rina Nakano, Amber Bjorstrom

The city of San Diego has a long to-do list when it comes to improving their Bridge homeless shelters.

On Saturday morning, 300 people moved into the new Alpha Project bridge shelter in East Village, after the facility was flooded on December 6th. But for all of those residents, their stay is temporary.

“This exists for one reason. To help people get back onto their feet. To help them get that apartment, and get that job,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said while pointing at the mended Alpha Project tent.

After contaminated flood water inundated the area, the city scrambled for a week to reopen the shelter. For nine days, residents spent their nights at SDCCU stadium. Once the East Village facility was sterilized and fixed, residents were bused back and moved into their bunks Saturday morning.

But the city faces several other challenges.

According to FEMA, the improved Alpha Project tent housing sits directly on top of a floodplain. Instead of rebuilding on a lower-risk area, the city decided to rehouse 325 residents in the same spot. In response, City Senior Press Secretary and Public Policy Manager, Greg Block sent 10News this statement:

Many parts of the City, including in Downtown, Mission Valley and the beach areas, are in 100- and 500-year floodplains. This site is located within an area identified to have a 0.2% chance of flooding in any given year, meaning engineers estimate that the area is at risk for flood approximately only once every 500 years. That designation is deemed suitable for all types of development including residential use. The site is not located in the more restrictive 1% chance of flooding area which is at risk for flooding every 100 years.

They are hoping the statistics are right, and they will not experience another disastrous flood for another 500 years. But the city of San Diego is facing another, more immediate bridge shelter issue.

At nearby Father Joe’s Villages, the City will demolish the smaller bridge shelter for families and single women in March 2019. In June, they will break ground on a 407 unit permanent housing project. While this is an excellent option for the long-term, for three months, 150 residents will not have a roof over their heads, unless the city quickly finds another temporary location for them.

In response, Block said:

In coordination with Father Joe’s Villages and the San Diego Housing Commission, the City has been exploring several possible alternatives. Because of the range of services provided by Father Joe’s Villages, the preferred location would be within walking distance to their campus. We hope to be able to provide more details soon.

“A lot of people will support more services, but not necessarily in their own backyard. And I’ve said we have to deliver services,” Mayor Faulconer said.

Block said the City is still calculating the total cost of flood repairs to the Alpha Project.

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