The city’s winter shelter for single homeless adults will open Saturday at 8 a.m., the Mayor’s Office announced today. Operating in a new location at Tailgate Park near the baseball stadium, the shelter will be open until March 14. For 30 days after that, St. Vincent de Paul Village will operate 120 beds per night.

The news release mentioned that this is the 21st consecutive year for the “Homeless Emergency Winter Shelter Program,” aiming to serve homeless single adults, families and veterans during “the region’s coldest and wettest months.”

My question: How can something be an emergency for 21 years?

Of course, this isn’t a new question. Last year, the lot adjacent to the shelter was under excavation and some feared the shelter’s residents would be exposed to fumes from an underground oil spill. That stirred up the annual controversy: Why is the shelter considered an emergency shelter, with pieced together funding, year after year?

Here’s a bit from that story:

Some argue “emergency” is the wrong word to describe the way the city thinks about this and the two other shelters involved in its winter shelter program. The tent is hardly a haphazard program. In six years, organizers have added health service providers and food programs — even the veterans hired to put up the tent have its assembly down to a science.

The tent shelter is funded this year by a city allocation of Emergency Shelter Grants and a grant from the United Way of San Diego County, according to the release. The Alpha Project will operate the shelter. For the season, the shelter costs $288,000 to operate, a $12-per-night per homeless individual cost.

The tent is one of three programs that make up the city’s emergency shelter program. The other two, a veterans’ shelter and a family shelter collaborative, will open on Dec. 5.


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