Make change count for San Diego homeless

Can you spare a dime? The Downtown San Diego Partnership hopes you can, and will, by dropping that dime and more of your coins in a red Make Change Count donation station.

“Instead of giving money to individuals on the street, these donation stations allow those who want the help the homeless contribute in a way that’s productive and effective,” said Kris Michell, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Make Change County began three years ago as a way to raise money for, and increase awareness about, homelessness in San Diego. There are 21 red meters strategically placed around the Downtown San Diego area.

“As a City, we have made a significant shift in how we spend dollars to combat homelessness,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “We are focused on programs that deliver a comprehensive level of services that don’t just provide a bed, but provide the wraparound services that people need to find permanent housing.”

When Salina Mills saw her first donation station, she was perplexed.

“When I was on Harbor Drive and homeless, I go near those machines and be like, what’s going on here? People won’t hand us money no more, but they would put it in the machine,” said Mills. “But that’s actually better because a lot of people out there, use it on drugs and alcohol or whatever.”

Mills, who was diagnosed with brain cancer a couple years ago, credits the Partnership and the program with helping her get off drugs and into a permanent home. It’s a blessing Mills hopes other people will take advantage of, to help them find stability.

“Once you’ve got that roof, everything else falls into place,” said Mills.