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North County Winter Shelter Program Already Underway

The first homeless shelters of the winter season have already opened in North County.

The North County Alliance for Regional Solutions has a network of shelters established that will open over the next month.

The first shelter to open this year is run by a church in Solana Beach, and several families and individuals have already taken advantage of the beds. The Interfaith Shelter Network runs rotating shelters, hosted by various congregations. They are one partner in North County's Alliance for Regional Solutions.

Donald Stump of the Regional Alliance said the number of homeless families creeps up every year. He says the north county network has established a system where cities share the job of keeping them off the streets .

“It’s really the beauty of the North County Alliance,” he said. “Rather than have one shelter try to meet all the needs, or one city meet all the needs of different homeless families and individuals, what we do is we have a network. So we communicate and cross refer.“

Stump said there are 36 member agencies that provide different services in several north county cities.

Operation Hope in Vista and Interfaith Shelter Network focus on homeless families, Bread of Life in Oceanside opens its doors to single adults and Catholic Charities’ shelter in Carlsbad is for single adult men.

The shelters will all open before December 1.

The only shelter in the north county network that does not yet have a firm location is the Salvation Army’s shelter for single adults in Escondido. However Mel Takahara of the Salvation Army says he is confident a temporary commercial location will be found. He hopes a more permanent shelter will be negotiated by January 2012.

Stump says more than 500 homeless individuals used the network last year and 70 percent of them were placed in more permanent housing.

The Regional Alliance plans an event at CSU San Marcos on November 16 to kick off this year’s winter shelter season. Students are helping to coordinate “Homeless Connect," a one-stop-shop for the homeless to access help and resources from all over north county.

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