The San Diego Union-Tribune’s homeless shelter program is ending

How San Diego achieved surprising success housing homeless people Updated What a difference just one year makes. Ten days after hosting the world’s largest homeless camp, The San Diego Union-Tribune announced it’s ending its…

The San Diego Union-Tribune's homeless shelter program is ending

How San Diego achieved surprising success housing homeless people

Updated

What a difference just one year makes. Ten days after hosting the world’s largest homeless camp, The San Diego Union-Tribune announced it’s ending its homeless shelter program.

In November, the shelter was running at half-capacity, while four other programs were operating at full capacity. The homeless population ballooned this winter. About 500 people came through the program in a single month, including some who had been housed elsewhere before.

“It was really a huge shock,” said Chris Yost, a former program manager who came back to the Union-Tribune later that month. “The last time we looked the encampment was in 2015. With this, they have an extraordinary amount of power here in San Diego.”

But then, Yost was struck by something else.

“I noticed the impact on the people who had come through that program and the people who came through other services,” he said. “And here’s this new system that’s so successful, but for everybody else it’s like, ‘Wow.'”

In April 2014, the Union-Tribune launched the city’s first permanent home for the homeless, the 100-bed homeless shelter in the Balboa Park area of San Diego. The facility opened with about 500 beds and has hosted more than 2,000 nights of shelter, medical and mental health appointments, job training and other services.

Last year, the Union-Tribune reported that the program was serving about 10,000 people a year. About 1,000 of those people were homeless. More than a third of city residents were able to get into the program through family ties or through friends of friends.

Then, in November, the Union-Tribune announced that the program was ending, citing a drop in its enrollment and a drop in its income tax revenue, as well as funding gaps. Its annual bill dropped from $9.3 million to $4 million, about 15 percent of the city’s general

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