The San Diego Convention Center lights up Sails Pavilion in recognition of World Homeless Day. Photo: City of San Diego

SAN DIEGO–As it continues to shelter nearly 1,000 individuals experiencing homelessness each night during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Convention Center will light its Sails Pavilion orange tonight and tomorrow in recognition of World Homeless Day. 

Orange has been selected as the color for World Homeless Day for its highly visible nature to shine brightly for a portion of the community that is often ignored and overlooked by the majority of the public. San Diegans can view the lights beginning at sundown on both Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, and Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. 

“There are millions of people around the world who experience homelessness every day,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “San Diego has made great strides over the past few years to invest in solutions that get people into safe, sanitary conditions and on a path to a permanent home, and we continue to make progress during this pandemic with 600 people and counting getting housed through Operation Shelter to Home. The Convention Center has been an invaluable community partner in opening its doors to our unsheltered neighbors and keeping them safe from this virus.” 

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Convention Center transitioned from being a major economic engine to serving as an emergency homeless shelter. Operation Shelter to Home launched on April 1 and is a collaborative effort between the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, San Diego Housing Commission, Regional Task Force on the Homeless, San Diego Convention Center and local homeless service providers. Its two main objectives are to protect the health of San Diegans experiencing homelessness and work to permanently house them as quickly as possible. 

“Our Sails Pavilion will shine orange for World Homeless Day to acknowledge the needs of people who experience homelessness and how different communities are responding,” said San Diego Convention Center President and CEO Rip Rippetoe. “Especially during this time when our most vulnerable San Diegans face COVID-19, we are grateful to our community for coming together and successfully implementing Operation Shelter to Home.” 

Public health officials have praised the shelter for its ability to successfully manage a population of approximately 1,000 individuals per day; keep an extremely low COVID-19 positivity rate among shelter clients, staff and volunteers; and quickly house more than 660 individuals through several key strategies. 

The first World Homeless Day was held 10 years ago and has continued annually to bring attention to the needs of those experiencing homelessness. It encourages communities to get involved in supporting them and to celebrate those already working to transform their lives.