Upcoming Midway homeless shelter draws mixed reactions from neighborhood leaders

A photo from January shows a large homeless encampment on Sports Arena Boulevard.
A photo from January shows a row of tents and makeshift structures stretching down Sports Arena Boulevard in the Midway District. The encampment has been significantly reduced since then. A 125-bed shelter is planned to open on county property blocks from the encampment site.
(Hayne Palmour IV)

News that a 125-bed homeless shelter would be located in the Midway District was applauded by the current chairman of the neighborhood’s planning group, but not its immediate past chair.

The shelter will be in the parking lot of San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Complex at 3851 Rosecrans St. in a tent owned by the Lucky Duck Foundation.

The new shelter will have 125 beds at first and will serve people with mental health issues and drug and alcohol addictions.

The shelter was welcome news to Dike Anyiwo, chairman of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.

Anyiwo said large encampments in the Midway District had become a growing concern to residents and business owners, and he sees the new shelter as a way of addressing the issue.

“These encampments are not a humane or safe way for people to live,” he said. “Unfortunately, they’ve become a part of the local landscape in Midway, so I am pleased that [county Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan] Fletcher, city leaders and the philanthropic sector are collaborating to bring a new ... shelter to the area. We look forward to working with them as this project moves forward to ensure our community understands our civic duty to help these vulnerable San Diegans.”

Cathy Kenton, who had chaired the community group until March, said the issue had not been discussed by the board and she personally was not enthused about the new shelter.

“I’m very disturbed about it,” she said. “It just brings more problems into Midway, and we’ve got more problems than we can handle right now. I don’t see how this is going to be a solution for Midway.”

Kenton said she doesn’t think the tent will reduce the number of encampments in the neighborhood because many people who live in tents and structures in the area have said they do not want to go to a shelter. She expects the shelter will attract people from outside the area who will linger in the Midway District during the day, creating even more homeless people on local streets.


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