San Diego’s new homeless shelter first to offer mental health, addiction services on site
The beds are made, the showers and restrooms are in place, and mental health and addiction specialists are ready to work with clients at the new homeless shelter in San Diego’s Midway District.
But first, outreach workers from the Alpha Project have to find those clients living on the streets and sidewalk encampments in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“They’ve known the shelter was going to be opening for quite some time, and they’ve been waiting patiently for us to give them the OK,” said Craig Thomas, who was behind the wheel of the Alpha Project van he drove down a stretch of California Street just off Kettner Boulevard.
Thomas, along with fellow outreach workers Ionia Honeycutt and Jack Phillips, were hoping to pick up people who said they were willing to check into the new shelter that opened Monday.
“We know quite a few,” Thomas said about the names on a clipboard in the front seat. “A lot of these people on the street I’ve been speaking with over the years, not just the past couple of months.”
The new 150-bed shelter is in a large tented structure behind the San Diego County Health and Human Services Complex and the Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County on Rosecrans Street. It’s the first of its kind to offer on-site mental health and addiction services, addressing some of the most serious issues facing people on the street.
The plan is to take it slow, bringing in 15 people at a time to assess their needs and connect them with help.
The city of San Diego contracted with the Alpha Project for $4.8 million for a 13-month term through June 30, 2023, at a cost of about $77 a bed nightly.
Through an agreement brokered by San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, the county is providing the site for the shelter and has allocated $1.4 million this fiscal year for Vista Hill to provide a multi-disciplinary team that includes a nurse practitioner, mental health clinicians and substance-use counselors.