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San Diego, Chula Vista to Partner to Replicate Bridge Shelter Program Regionally

Cities Working to Transfer San Diego Tent Structure to Chula Vista, Establishing New South County Shelter

Thursday, May 7, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – Continuing innovative solutions that have contributed to the regionwide homeless reduction, San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas announced today a partnership to expand San Diego’s successful bridge shelter model regionally by replicating it in the South Bay.

The City of San Diego will transfer its bridge shelter located in the Midway district to the City of Chula Vista to serve individuals experiencing homelessness there as well as neighboring cities. The shelter has been operated by Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD), which plans to streamline placements into long-term housing using existing vouchers and to repurpose some of its existing capacity within its main campus to accommodate the need for veteran shelter.

The Chula Vista City Council will discuss this issue at its council meeting on Tuesday, May 12, at 5 p.m. The council will vote on accepting the donation of the bridge shelter and setting aside funding for operations. The shelter is anticipated to serve homeless individuals who reside in South San Diego County. Chula Vista will be engaging other south bay cities to help establish a joint-shelter program among the jurisdictions. 

“We are grateful for the collaboration with the City of San Diego and the generous donation from the Lucky Duck Foundation,” Mayor Casillas Salas said. “I look forward to discussing this at our City Council meeting and moving forward with this important effort to provide services and address homelessness in the South County.”

San Diego stood up three bridge shelters in 2017 to bring people off the streets and into a safe, sanitary environment amid a regional Hepatitis A outbreak. Understanding the City’s urgent need at the time, the U.S. Navy offered its property in the Midway district with the understanding that it would be for temporary use. The bridge shelter has served as a critical lifeline to hundreds of U.S. military veterans, including a veteran whose journey was highlighted in Mayor Faulconer’s 2020 State of the City Address.

The shelter was purchased and loaned to the City by the Lucky Duck Foundation, a local non-profit that has contributed to supporting San Diego’s efforts to reduce homelessness throughout the years.

“Four years ago, Dan Shea and I began an effort in the business and philanthropic community to push San Diego to be “best-in-class” in all areas of homelessness, believing a private/public approach is the only way,” said Peter Seidler, General Partner of the San Diego Padres and Board Member of the Lucky Duck Foundation. “These bridge shelters are a cost-effective way for our city to give people a place indoors that focus on their road to recovery and make our city stronger and safer. Homelessness is a County-wide issue and this bridge shelter will have a measurable positive impact in Chula Vista.”

San Diego’s bridge shelter program has drawn attention from dozens of agencies and government officials from Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans and Vancouver, as well as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson over the past few years. Secretary Carson has recognized the City both for its efforts in housing and homelessness.

San Diego County was the only major Continuum of Care jurisdiction in California that saw a drop in homelessness in 2019, a trend that continued this year with another decrease of 6 percent in the region, according to the PDF icon most recent Point-in-Time Count released by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all residents from the City’s bridge shelters have been temporarily relocated to the San Diego Convention Center to meet physical distancing requirements, centralize staff and resources and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among San Diego’s homeless population. While vacant, the existing bridge shelter sites have been secured with regular checks by City facilities staff.

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