Port May Try Buying Tickets Home for the Bayfront Homeless

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Cruise Ships at the Port of San Diego. Photo credit: Wiki Commons

Officials at the Port of San Diego are considering additional steps to handle homelessness along the bayfront, according to a report scheduled to be delivered Tuesday to the agency’s Board of Commissioners.

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Over the past year, the port has been working with the nonprofit Alpha Project to arrange services for people living on the port’s tidelands. Most appear to be in an area between the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and Cesar Chavez Park in San Diego, according to the the report.

The report says the next steps will consider getting involved in the “Work Your Way Home” program, in which homeless people are given a bus ticket to return to their families, and the installation of donation pay stations.

The Work Your Way Home program requires families to agree to certain conditions and allow follow-up checks after three, six and nine months. The report says around 300 individuals have been returned home in the past two years, with only a few returning to the streets.

The donation stations are designed to be an alternative to handing out money to panhandlers, with the proceeds going to homeless programs. Stations would be set up around the bayfront for people to give money. Stations are currently in other parts of downtown.

Port staff say the revenue from the existing stations has been minimal, but the awareness they’ve created has resulted in increased giving elsewhere.

Both the program and donation stations are sponsored by the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

The Port District — which includes Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego — counted 943 people living along the tidelands in August. About half were contacted by the Alpha Project, and 138 males and 40 females agreed to be placed in shelters, the report says.

—City News Service

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