City camping site
San Diego’s camping site located off of 26th Street is shown in this frame from a video. Courtesy of city of San Diego

Cody Dulaney and Zoë Meyers | inewsource

Harsh and unpredictable weather conditions, uncomfortable living arrangements, and confusion about who is welcome and where they should go. 

San Diego’s campsite for people experiencing homelessness has been marked by its share of challenges since opening nearly 12 weeks ago. But it also has had some success.

inewsource ad

Located in a fenced-in parking lot in Balboa Park, some participants have called the campsite a “godsend,” saying it’s a stepping stone to a better life. At least eight people have managed to find housing while staying there, a spokesperson said. And for city officials, who refer to it as the Safe Sleeping Program, the site serves as a quick alternative to get people off the streets.

“This is one of the most unique opportunities that we’ve ever had in providing a resource to individuals who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” said Ketra Carter, with the city’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions department.

The site opened in late June as part of the city’s push to ban camping in public. To legally enforce such a ban, officials have to ensure adequate shelter is available to those who face citation or arrest. And for a shelter system that remains more than 90% full, people who want shelter in San Diego often can’t access it.

One solution officials are leaning into is a city-sanctioned campsite. It’s a place where people are allowed to live outside in a tent, where they can also access homeless services, housing navigation, food and water.

City officials tried this once before during the Hepatitis A outbreak in 2017, but this iteration of the Safe Sleeping Program is the first sustained effort, said city spokesperson Ashley Nicholes.

Read the full article on

Get investigative reporting in your inbox. Sign up for inewsource’s newsletters.