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August 11, 2010; Source: KPBS | Ever wonder what happens to old Post Offices? If a nonprofit has its way in San Diego, a former distribution center in Point Loma, Calif. will be turned into transitional housing for the homeless.

Ever wonder what happens to old Post Offices? If a nonprofit has its way in San Diego, a former distribution center in Point Loma, Calif. will be turned into transitional housing for the homeless.

One of the people backing the group’s purchase is co-founder of the year-old group called Amikas, Jenni Criscenzo. She says the plan would be for residents to grow their own food and pitch in on work to make the former postal center suitable for housing. “What you do is – those people that are on the streets right now that are skilled carpenters and plumbers and electricians and people that can learn those skills – is have them create their own community and that’s a whole lot different than a homeless shelter,” Criscenzo said.

If approved, the site would house up to 2,000 people. But that’s a big “if.” Among the obstacles: Amikas has never run a housing facility or offered services to the homeless, and no one has yet come forward to offer funding. More so, the plans for the postal center dwarf a much smaller project to create a homeless services facility at the city’s World Trade Center.

Councilman Todd Gloria who chairs the city’s land use and housing committee, and who has to approve the use of the postal center for housing, wonders if the project may be too big for Amikas. “Doing something on the order of the World Trade Center, which is 225 beds, is a stretch for recognized organizations that have long track records of serving a vulnerable population,” he said. “I think taking on something that is the size that is suggested for the Postal Service site by a new organization would require more due diligence on the city’s part to see whether or not that could be feasible.”

The Postal Service also has to review all bids for its former facility, and is accepting proposals until August 19. Let’s hope none get lost in the mail.—Bruce Trachtenberg