A member of the San Diego Police homeless outreach team speaks to a homeless resident staying in the Midway District on Sept. 28, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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This post originally appeared in the Jan. 31 Morning Report. Subscribe here for free.

Nearly all city shelters remain unable to take in homeless San Diegans amid a continuing spike in coronavirus cases.

The Housing Commission reported 30 positive test results on Friday following the latest round of testing at shelters operated by Alpha Project, Father Joe’s Villages and PATH.

Since the omicron variant exploded in San Diego in late December, there have been more than 165 positive tests among shelter residents and staff, leading the city to halt intakes.

A Housing Commission official has said the city is following federal guidance suggesting shelters stop intakes if they have three or more positive cases. That has meant that Father Joe’s and Alpha Project, which each operate multiple city shelters, have been unable to welcome newcomers for weeks. PATH’s downtown shelter — which had been taking in new clients as of early last week — is now also unable to take in newcomers.  

Only Alpha Project’s Midway District shelter that serves homeless residents grappling with behavioral health challenges can take in new clients.

At a City Council committee hearing last week, Housing Commission Executive Vice President Lisa Jones said she was hopeful the city could reopen shelters soon.

In a statement to NBC 7 San Diego last week, a city spokeswoman acknowledged the increase in COVID cases is stymieing city efforts to move more homeless residents off the streets, including with homeless outreach teams and police enforcement aimed at homeless camps like one that has been growing in the Midway District.

“The current increase in COVID cases has put a strain on shelter resources, making enforcement and other tools to get persons experiencing homelessness into shelter more challenging,” spokeswoman Ashley Bailey told NBC 7. “With case numbers slowing, we hope to have full use of shelters soon.”

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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