The US city of San Diego has opened the first of three large tents that together will house 700 homeless people in an effort to contain an outbreak of hepatitis A that is spreading among the homeless population.
About 20 people made the store their temporary home on Friday. The first tent erected will house 350 single men and women. The other two tents, which will open later this month, will be for families and veterans.
Bob McElroy of the Alpha Project, the nonprofit group that is operating the tent he opened on Friday, said he expects the tent to be filled for capacity by the middle of next week.
City officials are using the stores as a way to get people out of the streets where they have been living in such poor conditions that it has led to one of the worst outbreaks of hepatitis A in years. The disease, which is transmitted through feces, has left 20 people dead and has sent hundreds to the hospital.
New stores will provide a range of services for the homeless, including help with mental health, addiction and employment problems. The grounds of the store also include showers and portable toilets.
The stores are not the first of their kind in the city. Authorities had previously erected two large tents as winter shelters but knocked them down two years ago and moved the residents to a local shelter.