Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 - NEWS RELEASE
San Diego – To help people turn their lives around and keep neighborhoods clean, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today joined community leaders to open the City of San Diego’s third storage center where homeless individuals can safely store their belongings while they access supportive services to improve their health, job and housing situations.
Located on Lea Street in the El Cerrito neighborhood, the new Storage Connect Center opens following extensive community outreach and several public forums that resulted in the City committing to several proactive steps (detailed below) to ensure the facility is a good neighbor to the community.
“This is all about trying to eliminate the hurdles that keep homeless individuals from accessing the help they need to get their lives back on track,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This new storage center will give them the ability to safely store their personal belongings while they work to regain their independence by going to work, to class or to the doctor. We’re also making the commitment that the surrounding neighborhood will be cleaner and safer as a result.”
The new site will be operated by Mental Health Systems (MHS), a nonprofit organization that also offers programs to help individuals, families and communities impacted by substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. MHS also operates another of the city’s other storage facilities that opened last year in Logan Heights. A third site in downtown San Diego is operated by the nonprofit Think Dignity.
Combined, the three storage centers have capacity for 1,130 bins and 304 lockers, with the ability to serve over 1,400 individuals at any given time.
“The Storage Connect Centers offer an innovative solution to bring some safety and security to the lives of members of our community who are currently homeless,” said Sarah Nudel, Clinical Vice President for Mental Health System. “MHS is excited to now have the opportunity to expand our services to a second community and provide help to even more individuals and families so they can start rebuilding their lives.”
Last year, Mayor Faulconer asked City Councilmembers to identify potential sites in their districts for additional storage centers. In collaboration with City Council President Georgette Gomez, the El Cerrito location was selected. The Mayor’s Office conducted extensive outreach, presenting to 16 community groups as well as one-on-one interactions with hundreds of residents who shared their feedback.
“The City of San Diego has done an amazing transformation for this area. Gone are the encampments, the oversized vehicle parking, the unsanctioned RV campground, illegal dumping, and ongoing degradation of Chollas Creek,” said Vickie Church, an Oak Park community member. “This facility is another step in the integrated approach to dealing with homelessness challenges. Having a place to store personal items, a dry change of clothes or important papers can be a life saver for some. The right connection to step up and out of homelessness may very well begin here.”
The City and MHS have taken several proactive steps to ensure the facility is a good neighbor, including:
- Limiting storage capacity to 500 bins. Will start at 50 and expand as needed.
- Creating a Neighborhood Advisory Committee to develop relationships and partnerships throughout the community to assist with addressing concerns or issues.
- Providing security for the site.
- Conducting homeless outreach to reduce homelessness in the surrounding community.
- Limiting queuing and loitering around the facility.
- Proactively removing litter, debris and graffiti on the premises.
- Prohibiting alcohol and drug use on-site.
- Reporting criminal activity to law enforcement.
Since opening in June 2018, the Storage Connect Center in Logan Heights has served over 1,000 homeless individuals. The Center has helped hundreds of those clients get into shelter and connected nearly 100 individuals to their own stable housing units.
The expansion of the storage program is all part of Mayor Faulconer’s “Connect. Support. House.” strategy to reduce homelessness. Mayor Faulconer has led the largest expansion of homeless services in City history by opening four new bridge shelters, expanding the safe parking program for individuals living out of their vehicles and creating the Neighborhood Policing Division with homeless outreach teams to help address neighborhood quality-of-life issues.