At the Escondido City Council meeting of January 12, Thomas Armstrong complained that conditions at the Salvation Army's new homeless shelter on Metcalf Street were "deplorable."
"The Salvation Army is not totally to blame," he said. "The City of Escondido, its citizens, and businesses are more at fault. The last-minute negotiations with the City and its businesses left the Salvation Army in the unpleasant position of trying to accommodate people without adequate resources or facilities. Combined with trying to convert commercial property into some kind of habitable and safe environment for dozens of human beings is no easy task."
Armstrong said that the new shelter — a former golf-cart shop — has only two restrooms for approximately 60 people. There are no showers, laundry facilities, and only one sink for everything, including washing mops used to clean restroom floors.
"Would the City of Escondido and its highly esteemed city council allow someone to get a permit to house dogs this way?" Armstrong asked. "Would business owners, employees, and customers allow their immediate family members to live in such a manner? I don't think so."
Mayor Sam Abed took issue with Armstrong's complaints and assured the public that the accommodations were adequate. He said that as a Rotary Club member he had served food to 44 people at the shelter and was happy to do it.
"We have been commended by the Salvation Army," he said. "I want to make it very clear that we [the City] are proud to provide services to the homeless."
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