SAN DIEGO – Furthering his efforts to create a range of shelter options to meet the varied needs of San Diego’s unhoused population, Mayor Todd Gloria announced today that the City will temporarily use a former motel on Palm Avenue as a non-congregate transitional shelter for San Diegans experiencing homelessness who have access to a housing voucher or a pathway to permanent housing.
“I’ve promised San Diegans we’d leave no stone unturned as we create more opportunities for unsheltered folks to come off the streets, and the Palm Avenue interim shelter is a perfect example of that approach,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “We’ll continue to turn unused City assets into shelter whenever possible to give unhoused people a chance to connect with the services and resources they need to end their homelessness.”
The Palm Avenue facility currently has 22 rooms available (42 total on-site) and offers a shared kitchen and communal spaces, meeting and case-management areas, outdoor areas and laundry facilities. The shelter began welcoming clients on May 17 and Is currently housing 17 seniors who have vouchers and are awaiting a match to permanent housing. One 70-year-old veteran has already exited the shelter into permanent housing.
Priority for rooms is given to those 55 or older who have access to rapid rehousing assistance, a pathway to permanent supportive housing or a housing voucher.
The Palm Avenue facility was purchased and refurbished for the San Diego Misdemeanants At-Risk Track (S.M.A.R.T.) program, a diversion program created by the City Attorney’s Office for chronic misdemeanor offenders with acute drug addiction and complex social service needs. The City’s purchase and transformation of the motel on Palm Avenue was approved by the City Council in 2017 and served families experiencing homelessness at the height of the pandemic. Since then, the City has opened family shelters elsewhere, creating the opportunity to use the facility as a non-congregate shelter for single adults.
The facility will operate as an interim shelter until the diversion program by the City Attorney’s Office and County Behavioral Health services is ready to launch, anticipated in the fall.
The interim shelter is being operated by City Net, the nonprofit homelessness services organization that the Mayor Gloria’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department contracted with in 2021 to begin outreach services to residents in freeway-adjacent encampments, in partnership with Caltrans. Referrals into the interim shelter are being provided by homeless service providers such as San Diego Housing Commission, PATH, Father Joe Villages and Alpha Project, as well as by the County of San Diego.
The use of the facility aligns with the City’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness, a comprehensive strategy to reduce homelessness over 10 years. The plan notes the need to add more than 500 crisis-response options like new shelter beds, transitional housing facilities or diversion programs.
Mayor Gloria has expanded shelter capacity by more than 25 percent since April 2021, including more shelter options dedicated to serving subpopulations of people experiencing homelessness with specific care needs, like women, those with mental health and substance use issues and now seniors. In his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget, Mayor Gloria reaffirmed his commitment to expanding shelter capacity and homelessness services even further.