No Winter shelter yet for the homeless

Andrew Fergin

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For the past few years come the winter season, San Diego has put up two tent sites to help the homeless; one for homeless veterans and one for homeless civilians. This year however, San Diego City Council members have been unable to agree on a location for the civilian structure. If this was a discussion regarding some revision to city policy it would be understandable that it has taken this long to deliberate, but it’s not. The weather is getting colder and wetter as we approach December and while it might be warm where the City Council is debating locations, for the thousands of homeless out on the streets with nowhere to go, it’s anything but.

If things keep up as they are, there are going to be problems. This isn’t an issue to debate any longer, it’s and issue to finish. There are children and elderly homeless San Diegans every year who rely on the winter shelter and if the debate doesn’t speed up they’re going to be left out on the streets to battle the elements on their own as the onset of the harsher winter cold comes.

Last year the shelters were up by late November. There was some debate about where to put them, but by this point plans had been made. It boggles the mind that the City Council has been so slow to act on what is quickly going to become an urgent matter. Even more perplexing, of the two shelters the one for homeless veterans has been located in roughly the same place every year, so there should have been no shortage of time to figure out the logistics of the civilian shelter.

To run the numbers, it was estimated last year that there were over 4,000 homeless in San Diego. The majority of the homeless are concentrated in the down town area hence why the civilian shelter was typically put up there. The tent itself is modest, unable to hold even a quarter of all the homeless. If even two hundred homeless are brought off the streets that’s something. That’s two hundred people who don’t need to fear for where they’ll sleep and be sheltered against the harsh weather. Even if the shelter lacks the room to house every homeless San Diegan in need, it can still at the very least provide a hot meal.

Following a City Council meeting on October 12th, which failed to decide on a location for the civilian shelter, many City Council members agreed that whatever was going to be done it had to be done soon. The problem isn’t that they’re wrong, the problem is that things should never have reached this point to begin with. Whatever decision is eventually reached, the fact of the matter is that city should have handled things better than this.

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