The Golden Hall homeless shelter in San Diego will close in the near future, and new places will need to be found to accommodate hundreds of homeless people.
The impending closure puts some of the shelter’s residents, like Kevin Graves, at a dead end. He’s been there for six months.
“It’s a parody,” Graves said. “There are a lot of homeless people here in San Diego, but they still justify closing a place that has helped a lot of people.”
The City Shelter has been operating on a temporary permit at the site for about four years and is run by Father Joe’s Village.
“It will be a transition over the next number of months. We have over 500 beds there, and most of them are on the first level for single men,” said Father Joe’s deacon Jim Vargas. “We have over 300 beds for single men, and then on the second level we have beds for families and beds for young adults.”
Vargas said the closing timeline is challenging because homelessness is the worst thing he’s ever seen in San Diego.
In a statement to KPBS, city spokesman Dave Rolland said, “There is no hard date for the move. Families from the second floor will move to a new family shelter in Barrio Logan, which is expected to open this spring.”
Rolland said the city is still seeking shelter options for grown men and young adults. He stressed that “they will continue to be placed in the Golden Hall until suitable options are found. No one will be sent outside.”
Vargas said one population in the Golden Hall would be particularly difficult to relocate. “When it comes to single men, it can be multiple places because we’re talking about over 300 people,” Vargas said.
The timing of the move is still unclear, and the lack of details is frustrating for some of the Golden Hall residents.
“The promises are great, but we’ve heard them, and it’s a little discouraging,” Graves said. “When this statement was made, you could probably feel the silence here and the sigh of despair.”
Vargas said no one has moved out of Golden Hall yet, but the closure gives the city an opportunity to expand other types of shelters and housing options.
“There are people on the streets who don’t necessarily want to go to crowded places, but they want to get off the streets,” he said. “So it gives us the opportunity to meet them where they are and find solutions like safe villages.”
The City has said that the continued operation of the Golden Hall as a permanent sanctuary will require many costly improvements to the building.
Golden Hall could be part of a larger renovation plan called the Civic Core Revitalization Project, which aims to upgrade six blocks of buildings in downtown San Diego.