‘It’s absolutely worse.’ Sen. Atkins reacts to downtown homeless population

State Sen. Toni Atkins took a first-hand look at Father Joe’s Village housing project that recently opened in downtown San Teresa of Calcutta on Friday, but expressed some mixed feelings with what he saw.

The 14-storey building, which opened in February, is impressive, he noted, both in appearance and in its ability to house about 500 people who were or could have been left homeless.

But just outside the lobby doors, homeless people crowded around a 14th Street camp. Upstairs, Atkins could see a series of scenes unfolding on Commercial Street.

“There’s more work to be done,” Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, told Deacon. “But I also think you have proof of what works.”

Villa Teresa of Calcutta was built for two years next to Father Joe’s Villages campus in the city center, which includes a shelter, a transitional and permanent housing, a medical clinic, a dining room and other services. The new $ 145 million, 14-story building, the largest ever built by the nonprofit, was funded by a variety of sources, including a $ 10 million donation from philanthropist Terrence Caster, who asked for the building to be named after Mother Teresa. .

“And we received $ 20 million from the state,” Vargas told Atkins. “Thank you for that.”

But Vargas also took the opportunity to share some funding frustrations with the legislature, saying the nonprofit had to revise its first plans because of some bureaucratic rules. Restrictions on who could be served with some grant money required the building to be constructed as two separate but connected buildings, an additional step that added to the cost of the project, he said.

Atkins said Scott Peters spokesman D-San Diego, who as she once served on the San Diego City Council, has been working for years to review a federal funding formula. San Diego County once had the third largest homeless population in the country, but ranked 18th in federal funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The senator’s visit was hailed by Father Joe’s Villages as an event for Women’s History Month, and Atkins spent time talking to two women who had been helped by the nonprofit.

“I was actually in the shelter and I liked the treatment I received at the help center,” said Ollie Gummer. “I lost my job and I promised myself I would not be homeless again.”

Gummer, 69, said she worked at a Goodwill store but was fired about 11 years ago and fired because her unemployment benefits were late. She went to Father Joe’s Villages for help and was given a temporary shelter bed, followed by a stay in a makeshift home and eventually a permanent residence in the building known as the C-15 on the corner of Commercial Avenue and 15th Street, where she lives. with her 50-year-old son.

As Atkins told her there was a need for more affordable housing in the area, Gamer agreed, but pointed to an ongoing problem.

“Everyone says, ‘No in my yard,'” he said.

Atkins also met Michelle McElroy, an unmarried mother of six who was a client of Father Joe and now works as a housing coordinator at St. Teresa’s Villa in Calcutta.

“The consequences of homelessness on women are obviously more horrific and harsh because of potential threats on the road,” Atkins said. “Not that not all homeless people face these challenges. We saw men attacking. “But I think women are always more vulnerable.”

Atkins said she has spoken to many homeless women who have been told about their fears of living on the streets and that she has met some who have had relationships with homeless people only for protection.

During her visit, Atkins noted that the homeless population in the city center seems larger than ever.

“It’s absolutely worse,” he said. “If you look down the road, you will see all the scenes here. “It’s frustrating, because when you’re someone trying to do it for so long, it just doesn’t seem like we’re getting it.”

‘It’s absolutely worse.’ Sen. Atkins reacts to downtown homeless population Source link ‘It’s absolutely worse.’ Sen. Atkins reacts to downtown homeless population

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