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The annual shelter-skelter happening tonight

September 20, 2010 - 3:09 pm

Proposed site of the 2010 / 2011 winter homeless shelter.

The sole item on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting (one of the rare evening meetings the council occasionally holds) is the 2010 / 2011 winter homeless shelter. This year, only one out of 12 potential sites was deemed feasible—meaning: large enough, close to public transportation, located in the city’s core and, well, turnkey, so to speak. Called “East Village Green West,” it’s the site of a yet-to-be-built park and is bounded by 13th and 14 streets to the east and west and G and F streets to the north and south.

The owner of the site that housed the shelter for the last two years, at 15th Street and Island Avenue, says that property’s up for sale and not available for use; the year before, in 2006, the shelter was located at Tailgate Park, which the Padres say once again isn’t available due to wintertime parking needs.

Though advocates for the homeless say a winter shelter will be needed as long as people are sleeping on the street, the city says it’ll operate the tent only until a planned one-stop services center, which will house 223 beds transitional and permanent beds, opens in December 2012. The winter shelter’s paid for by grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city’s total winter shelter program, which includes a tent for vets in the Midway district, costs $778,115 to operate and will house 350 people (200 downtown and 150 in the vets’ tent).

Expect some strong opposition to the proposed site—which is adjacent to the Art Center Lofts and New School of Architecture and Design—at tonight’s meeting. On Sept. 17, the East Village Association sent a letter to Mayor Jerry Sanders and the City Council, arguing that “year after year, the East Village is unfairly saddled” with the tent.

In public meetings, however, East Village Association members have expressed strong support for the one-stop services center, the proposed location of which is Sixth Avenue and Ash Street, far outside the EV.

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