Shelter beds in old library
Shelter beds in the old central library. Photo courtesy of Todd Gloria’s office

The city on Thursday announced that the homeless women’s shelter at the old Central Library in downtown will close in 10 days due to an expiring permit.

The temporary permit the city secured to use the library as overnight shelter is limited to 180 days within a 12-month period, Mayor Todd Gloria said in statement. The structure can’t continue as an overnight shelter without changes under land-use regulations.

“We opened the temporary shelter at the old Central Library this past January to get vulnerable women safely off the street and put on a path to housing,” he said. “With our 180-day permit expiring, we will be closing the shelter on July 23 with plans to reopen it in six months with a new 180-day permit.”

The mayor, said however, that his office stands by the long-term plan for the former library – to adapt it into a shelter and affordable housing.

“That’s precisely what we intend to do,” he said. “I will be bringing a proposal to the City Council this fall.”

According to city records, through April 30, the shelter had served 105 women, 77 of whom were chronically homeless. Of these clients, 49 were at least 55 years old, 45 were women of color and 40 were survivors of domestic violence.

A total of 22 women exited the shelter for temporary or permanent housing. Data from May through July will be available in the coming weeks.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness San Diego operated the shelter. Gloria said NAMI will continue to help the city connect those in downtown encampments to permanent housing.

The city’s existing Safe Sleeping site at 20th and B operates under a 180-day permit, but the fire marshal has discretion to issue a new 180-day permit given the program is outdoors and not in a physical structure, according to the city.

– City News Service