San Diego opens giant tent to house 350 homeless people to help contain a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20

  • The first of three industrial-sized tents to house the homeless opened Friday as part of the city's efforts to contain a hepatitis outbreak
  • The outbreak has killed 20 people in the past year, marking the worst epidemic of its kind in the US in 20 years?
  • About 20 people made their way to a bunk bed Friday in the tent that will house 350 single men and women
  • Two other giant tents will open later this month - one for families and one for veterans - the tents will house a total of 700 people

San Diego on Friday opened the first of three industrial-sized tents to house the homeless as part of the city's efforts to contain a hepatitis outbreak stemming from the deplorable conditions people were living in on the streets.

About 20 people made their way to a bunk bed Friday in the tent that will house 350 single men and women.?

Two other giant tents will open later this month - one for families and one for veterans. The tents will house a total of 700 people.

Crews work in front of the the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless Friday

Crews work in front of the the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless Friday

Verna Vasbinder looks on from her new bunk in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless?

Verna Vasbinder looks on from her new bunk in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless?

The city turned to tents to get people off the streets and contain a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20 people in the past year, marking the worst epidemic of its kind in the US in 20 years. The virus lives in feces.?

'There's going to be a marked different in what we see on the streets today and what we see at this time next year,' said Bob McElroy of the Alpha Project, the nonprofit group that will operate the tent that opened Friday.

More than 3,000 people have been living on the streets in the city. The city opened a temporary campground in October where 200 people lived in tents. They will now be moved into the new giant tents.?

More than 3,000 people have been living on the streets in the city. The city opened a temporary campground in October where 200 people lived in tents. They will now be moved into the new giant tents?

More than 3,000 people have been living on the streets in the city. The city opened a temporary campground in October where 200 people lived in tents. They will now be moved into the new giant tents?

Crews continue with the final preparations in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless

Crews continue with the final preparations in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless

Verna Vasbinder, 47, was among the first to move from the campground. She rolled in with her little black dog, Lucy Lui, on the seat of her walker with a cardboard sign hanging off the back that read: 'Don't Touch the Dog! The Human Bites!'

She plopped down on her bunk bed and already felt lucky to be finally under a roof.

'My bones were hurting very badly sleeping on the ground,' said Vasbinder, who has been homeless for six years.?

'And the dew, moisture in the morning. Whew! I'm out of the cold, off the ground and I'll be feeling better in a few days. All I need is to rest in a bed.'

Verna Vasbinder prepares her her new bunk in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless as her dog, Lucy Lui, looks on

Verna Vasbinder prepares her her new bunk in the city's new Temporary Bridge Shelter for the homeless as her dog, Lucy Lui, looks on

Vasbinder, 47, was among the first to move from the campground. She rolled in with her little black dog, Lucy Lui, on the seat of her walker with a cardboard sign hanging off the back that read: 'Don't Touch the Dog! The Human Bites!'?

Vasbinder, 47, was among the first to move from the campground. She rolled in with her little black dog, Lucy Lui, on the seat of her walker with a cardboard sign hanging off the back that read: 'Don't Touch the Dog! The Human Bites!'?

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who welcomed her to the tent, said the goal is to move 65 percent of the occupants into permanent housing.?

The city had to divert $6.5 million budgeted for permanent housing to fund the operation of the tents for seven months.

The tents will provide an array of services from mental health care to housing navigators.

But the city still faces an acute housing shortage for the poor. Faulconer has earmarked more than $80 million in funds to address the problem.

Two men on left are fixing a bike in front of makeshift tents used by the homeless in San Diego

Two men on left are fixing a bike in front of makeshift tents used by the homeless in San Diego

A Homeless woman walks with her belongings in the East Village area of Downtown San Diego, California?

A Homeless woman walks with her belongings in the East Village area of Downtown San Diego, California?

Gemma Librado lives a block away from the tent that opened Friday. She said she is glad to see the streets being cleaned up but she worries it may attract more homeless.?

Last Sunday, a homeless man high on drugs and with a bleeding hand ran into her apartment when she opened the door and locked himself in the bathroom.?

She and her six-year-old son ran out and called police. The man broke things in her bathroom, left bloodstains on the floor and scared her.

'If this makes things more orderly than I support this,' she said.?

'But I'm worried. I don't want this to bring in more homeless to the area and people using drugs. There are families with children around here.'

Homeless man with cardboard sign sleeping on the sidewalk in front of a 7-Eleven in Pacific Beach, California

Homeless man with cardboard sign sleeping on the sidewalk in front of a 7-Eleven in Pacific Beach, California

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