We’re getting ready for a great evening next Thursday, Feb. 21. When we launched this Quest series to better understand the scope of homelessness in San Diego and to evaluate where we’re going, I knew we’d host some kind of live discussion or event.

I appeared on TV a few weeks ago with Bob McElroy, director of the organization that runs the downtown winter tent shelter, and I got an idea. What if we had the event there? There’d be a couple hundred people who sleep there, and a couple hundred of us who don’t, all under one tent for the discussion.

I mentioned the idea to McElroy. He was in, and his team has been very generous to figure out with us how to pull this experiment off.

Space is very limited, so if you’d like to join us, please register. It’s free. If you can’t make it, we’ll post videos and recaps afterward and keep the conversation going online.

Here are the speakers we’ll feature in a quick-moving presentation style, leaving time for them to ask questions of one another and field some of yours. Any questions you already want to ask them? Leave us a comment below or email your question to kelly@vosd.org.

• Social worker Marc Stevenson is the director of Project 25, which provides housing and intense, wide-ranging social services for people who frequently use hospital and emergency services. The project centers on 35 of the highest users of those services, and is collecting data to show the costs of the program compared with the costs those individuals incurred in jails and hospitals across the county. The United Way funds Project 25 and contracts with St. Vincent de Paul Village, where Stevenson works, to run the day-to-day program.

Kelly Knight works for the Downtown San Diego Partnership in its Clean and Safe program. She meets people who sleep downtown and connects them with housing or other services the group provides to try to end downtown homelessness — programs like “Work Your Way Home,” where people can do clean-up or security work to earn money for a bus ticket to a city where they have family or friends to stay with, rather than staying on the streets in San Diego. She previously worked at the Alpha Project for nearly seven years.

Danny McCray runs security and logistics for a check-in center where 250 homeless people can use a clean garbage bin to store their belongings. The Check-in Center, created after a legal settlement that stemmed from city employees destroying homeless people’s belongings, is currently in a St. Vincent de Paul Village parking lot at 16th Street and Commercial Avenue, but its operating group, the Girls Think Tank, is looking for a new location. McCray has a compelling take on what agencies can do to help people believe they can overcome homelessness. And he might know: He was homeless himself. I learned about McCray in Kelly Davis’s recent story on the Check-in Center in CityBeat.

• Coming from the law enforcement angle is Rick Schnell, a sergeant with the San Diego Police Department who runs its Homeless Outreach Team. The team is composed of police officers and county psychiatric and mental health workers who connect willing chronically homeless people with housing and services. He also co-founded the Serial Inebriate Program, known as SIP, more than a decade ago, which tries to divert chronic alcoholics who’ve been arrested into treatment instead of the justice system.

Kimberly Becker was formerly homeless and brings the perspective of someone who’s used day center and shelter services. She has been in recovery for nearly two years from alcohol addiction. She frequented Rachel’s Women’s Center and stayed at Rachel’s Night Shelter — programs for homeless women run by Catholic Charities of San Diego. She lives in the organization’s Independent Living Program, which provides studio apartments for women completing recovery programs.

What are you eager to ask our speakers? Leave your question below.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.