February 6, 2013: The influx of homeless families in San Diego is taking a toll on the city's emergency shelters. Emergency services director for the (at left) San Diego Rescue Mission, Molly Downs, told KPBS "I’ve been working with families for 12 years, and I’ve never seen the amount of kids and families that we had last year."
According to Susan Murphy reporting for KPBS, the overnight emergency shelter has room and beds for 60 women and children but often times they have to use the "special services envelope" to add 20 more beds.
CEO of the Rescue Mission, Herb Johnson, said they do all they can to avoid turning women and children away from the downtown Elm Street location. Johnson added, "We know that if we put them out of here, and they don't have a bed, there isn't another bed likely for them."
Nights at the shelter are chaotic as multiple babies and children share rooms to sleep. The school-age children struggle at school because they can't sleep well at night, Downs added,"we try to get lights out at 9 p.m., but they wake up at 5 a.m. and eat breakfast around 6 a.m."Most of the children who are living at the shelter attend the 26-year-old Monarch School that is San Diego's unique institution, dedicated to "serving K-12 students impacted by homelessness. It is walking distance from the shelter, as is the standard public school, Washington Elementary.
"We've had schools call us and say that some of our kids are so tired they're falling asleep in class, and we'll try to get those kids to sleep and make sure their homework is done, but it's hard to get them up at five and out of the door," said Downs.
Johnson said he is often overwhelmed with guilt on his drive home, especially during bad weather. Later adding,"It’s like a freight train of women and baby carriages and kids coming up Second Avenue. I look at those kids, they’re soaking wet, it’s raining. At least I know they’re going to be safe here. "
Written by Taylor McCulloch.