SAN DIEGO (AP) — 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 A 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.
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.
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!”