Civic leaders endorse tents for the homeless

August 26, 2017 by  

Over 200 of San Diego’s business and civic leaders have indicated they support a plan to use tents as temporary shelters for the homeless population of San Diego County. Dan Shea, who owns Donovan’s Steak House, and Peter Seidler, a managing partner of the Padres, announced the idea last month.

The two would like to erect the same type of large industrial tents the city used as winter shelters until that program was discontinued. Each tent can hold about 250 people, and the pair said a number of private parties had pledged to help pay for them.

Shea said he knows about “housing-first,” the idea that permanent housing, with supportive services to help people remain there, is the best way to reduce homelessness, but building low-income or affordable housing takes time. The tents would offer an immediate solution. Shea also says he believes “housing-first” is the correct solution to homelessness in the long-term, but before that housing is finished some people could be on the streets for years. They need help immediately.

Others endorsing the idea included Malin Burnham, a philanthropist and developer; Dick Enberg, a sports announcer; and Doug Manchester, a hotel developer. Bob McElroy, who is an advocate for the homeless and who has built housing for them, is also on board with the plan.

Such measures can be controversial, so advocates might consider working with a newsletter printing company to create a letter for area residents, discussing the issues.