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Veterans from Bridge Shelter Move to Convention Center to Protect Homeless Individuals from COVID-19

Operation “Shelter to Home” Aims to Prevent Spread of Virus, Help Homeless Individuals Find Permanent Housing

Sunday, April 5, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO – Days after Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and regional leaders opened one of San Diego’s most iconic buildings to protect homeless individuals from COVID-19, veterans from another City bridge shelter will begin their move into the San Diego Convention Center.

Today Mayor Faulconer and Veterans Village San Diego (VVSD) Chief Operating Officer Andre Simpson announced more than 180 veterans would make their transition into the convention center. With much more space than the City’s four bridge shelters, the convention center allows for proper physical distancing between individuals per guidelines from public health officials. The move also centralizes limited shelter staff and offers medical attention to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among San Diego’s homeless population.

“Our veterans have served and protected us, and we're going to make sure to protect them from COVID-19." Mayor Faulconer said. "In the convention center, our homeless veterans will benefit from more space, medical monitoring and housing navigators who will help them find a home. We are going to work day and night to keep homeless veterans safe, and keep them from returning to homelessness."

Under “Operation Shelter to Home,” case managers and housing navigators will be focused on finding housing for individuals as well as sheltering them. Teams will work to quickly transition people into permanent housing solutions – with the goal of ultimately reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in San Diego.

Announced March 23, the repurposing of the convention center is part of a new, system-wide, coordinated plan to further help sheltered and unsheltered individuals remain healthy during the global pandemic. It supports a broader regional approach to address homelessness during this state of emergency.

Individuals are being moved into the convention center in a phased approach to ensure needs and resources are scaled appropriately. Veterans from VVSD are the second wave to transition to the temporary shelter following a cohort on Wednesday of more than 350 individuals from the City’s two bridge shelters operated by the Alpha Project. Once physical distancing requirements have been met for current shelter residents, capacity will be assessed to intake unsheltered San Diegans.

"Veterans Village of San Diego is working with the City and County to make sure our veterans are receiving the best care available during this unprecedented epidemic. Moving them into the Convention Center ensures we can provide a safe environment allowing for appropriate social distancing while providing access to medical, mental health, and case management services,” Simpson said. "We are proud to partner with the County and the City in this tremendous effort to support our homeless population and grateful to Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Cox and Supervisor Fletcher for their leadership and decisive actions helping the San Diego community stay safe during these trying times."

Proper hygiene, sanitation and monitoring of individuals are just a few of the precautionary measures being taken to prevent the spread of illness within the temporary shelter. Clients and staff are being screened daily by temperature check and verbal questionnaire by homeless service providers or San Diego Public Health Nurses (PHN). They are also instructed to wash and sanitize their hands upon each re-entry into the facility.

Persons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be evaluated by a San Diego County PHN or other assigned medical personnel for a determination of the need to transfer to an on-site isolation area, off-site isolation or a medical treatment facility for significant severe symptoms.

For information regarding COVID-19 cases and directives from County of San Diego public health officials, please visit coronavirus-sd.com. Text “COSD COVID19” to 468-311 for text alert updates.

For the updates on City of San Diego services, programs, links to helpful information and steps the public can take to help reduce the spread of the disease, please visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus

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