Billy McIntosh watched the large white tent rise up against the downtown backdrop of tall buildings and a sky crane on Wednesday, November 19. He has been getting anxious as the nights turn colder in San Diego.
“I lost my job as a construction worker and ran out of unemployment money,” said the over-six-feet-tall Irishman with graying blond hair. “I also lost my apartment, and it’s been getting cold living in the streets.”
McIntosh and many others were watching workers from the Veterans Village of San Diego work on the winter homeless shelter in an empty lot at the corner of 16th Street and Island Avenue. The workers had a goal to complete the tent within a week.
The temporary winter shelter is a joint effort by many organizations, including the City of San Diego, the Veterans Village, and the Alpha Project. The City of San Diego dropped off the tent on Monday. The Veterans Village is providing the work crew to get the structure built. The Alpha Project office will be managing the shelter during its winter operation.
According to the mayor’s office, the shelter is not required to open till the December 2, but Bob McElroy, president and chief executive of the Alpha Project, wants to open next week.
“I’m praying it doesn’t rain,” said McElroy. “Otherwise the work will stop and we’ll have a problem with the early opening.”