San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer joined community leaders Monday to open the City of San Diego’s third Storage Connect Center for homeless people.
The new center is located on Lea Street in the El Cerrito neighborhood and will allow homeless individuals to safely store their belongings in bins and lockers.
"This is all about trying to eliminate the hurdles that keep homeless individuals from accessing the help they need to get their lives back on track," Mayor Faulconer said. "This new storage center will give them the ability to safely store their personal belongings while they work to regain their independence by going to work, to class or to the doctor."
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The site will be operated by Mental Health System (MHS), a nonprofit organization that offers programs to help individuals, families, and communities impacted by substance abuse and behavioral health disorders.
"The Storage Connect Centers offer an innovative solution to bring some safety and security to the lives of members of our community who are currently homeless," said Sarah Nudel, Clinical Vice President for MHS.
One of the city’s other storage facilities in Logan Heights is also operated by MHS, while the third location in downtown San Diego is operated by the nonprofit Think Dignity.
Combined, the three storage centers have the capacity to serve over 1,400 individuals at any given time, with 1,130 bins and 304 lockers.
City officials are making the commitment that the surrounding neighborhood will be cleaner and safer as a result of this new facility, according to Mayor Faulconer.
To ensure community satisfaction with the storage center, the City and MHS have created a Neighborhood Advisory Committee to develop relationships to assist with addressing concerns or issues.
Alcohol and drug use on the site will be prohibited, and queuing and loitering around the facility will be limited. Litter, debris, and graffiti on the premises will be proactively removed and site security will be provided.
These proactive steps come after extensive community outreach and several public forums, officials said.
Starting last year, the Mayor's Office presented to 16 community groups and spoke one-on-one with hundreds of residents who shared their feedback.
Since opening in June 2018, the Logan Heights storage center has served over 1,000 homeless individuals, helping hundreds get into shelters and connecting nearly 100 individuals to stable housing units.
"The City of San Diego has done an amazing transformation for this area. Gone are the encampments, the oversized vehicle parking, the unsanctioned RV campground, illegal dumping, and ongoing degradation of Chollas Creek," said Vickie Church, an Oak Park community member. "This facility is another step in the integrated approach to dealing with homelessness challenges.”
The continued expansion of the storage program is part of Mayor Faulconer's "Connect. Support. House." strategy to reduce homelessness. Additional homeless services expanded by Mayor Faulconer include the opening of four new bridge shelters, the expansion of the safe parking program for individuals living out of their vehicles, and the creation of the Neighborhood Policing Division with homeless outreach teams to help address neighborhood quality-of-life issues.