Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

New ‘Hotel of Healing’ Planned For Homeless In Escondido

This undated photo rendering shows how Interfaith Community Services plans to...

Credit: Interfaith Community Services

Above: This undated photo rendering shows how Interfaith Community Services plans to transform a newly purchased motel on North Centre City Parkway in Escondido. It will serve as transitional and recuperative housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The need for spaces to house people experiencing homelessness is at an all-time high. Organizations throughout San Diego County have steered towards purchasing distressed hotels as a way to provide a safe and effective space for people experiencing homelessness.

Interfaith Community Services, serving North County San Diego, is the newest group to purchase a hotel for homeless housing. Their just-acquired property is in a commercial zone in the city of Escondido.

Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

The motel had been listed for sale since 2019, and will soon serve as an expansion of the services Interfaith offers.

Jennifer Kacizak, a former Interfaith client, said those services were essential to getting her off the streets and into housing.

Reported by Tania Thorne , Video by Andi Dukleth

“It’s impossible for people to go from street to something like this or the place I'm at now,” she said.

Kacizak was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. The physical and financial burden of treatment took a toll on her, causing her to lose her home and job.

“The chemo kinda made me have brain fog a lot, so it was really hard to get a job afterwards or something similar to what I was doing before,” she said. “So I just kind of gave up. I didn't pay rent, didn't pay my car, maxed my credit cards, depression pretty much. Being broke because of cancer.”

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Jennifer Kacizak

This 2014 photo shows Interfaith Community Services graduate Jennifer Kacizak in the hospital for breast cancer treatment.

After losing her home, Kacizak rented an RV in a friend's yard. When she could no longer afford that, she had no choice but to sleep on the streets.

Kacizak recalled sleeping at the Carlsbad Village transit station to try to escape the temptation of drugs and alcohol that she said were more prevalent in inland North County.

Two weeks before the pandemic hit, Kacizak was able to get two weeks in a hotel shelter program. Because of the pandemic, and because she was considered high risk due to her cancer treatment, those two weeks turned into five months.

Through the "healing hotels" as Kacizak calls them, she was able to get help from an Interfaith case worker who helped her get on the right track to permanent housing.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Jennifer Kacizak

Interfaith Community Services graduate Jennifer Kacizak in her room in Escondido on October 13, 2020. Kacizak was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. The toll of treatment caused her to be homeless and seek services from Interfaith that have now helped her get into permanent housing.

“It’s amazing they have these programs, and the fact that they’re for people coming out of the hospitals and they can recuperate, I think that's fantastic,” she said.

CEO of Interfaith Community Services, Greg Anglea, said Kacizak’s case is similar to many of those they encounter and will be able to assist with the help of the newly purchased motel.

“We’re so excited to turn this now empty motel into a place of healing and transformation. We will help people who are exiting hospitals without housing, and we’ll also help people who are on the streets to be able to have a safe place to go while they move forward in their lives,” he said.

Anglea said this project had been in the works for over a year and got delayed by the pandemic. The building was originally listed for $10 million. Because of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, Interfaith was able to negotiate a reduction in purchase price to $8.6 million.

He estimates the total renovations will cost $1.5 million, bringing the total project cost to $10.1 million. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a $6 million grant toward the purchase. The remainder will be funded by donations.

Now that the motel off N. Centre City Parkway is officially theirs, Interfaith will go in to prepare the rooms for program patients.

Photo caption:

Photo by Andi Dukleth

CEO of Interfaith Community Services, Greg Anglea, at the newly purchased hotel in Escondido that will serve as transitional and recuperative housing for the homeless in North County, on Octotber 13, 2020.

“There are thousands of people experiencing homelessness on any night in our county. The reality is there are not enough shelter beds, not enough graduate lodging beds or recuperative care beds like what we will provide here,” Anglea said.

Interfaith’s current 32-bed recuperative care center is at capacity. The purchase of the motel will expand recuperative care to 54 total beds and 33 motel rooms for Interfaith program graduates seeking housing.

The trend of purchasing hotels to serve as housing for the homeless has been gaining momentum. The San Diego City Council recently approved the purchase of two hotels to serve as permanent housing, a move that Mayor Kevin Faulconer said is leading California in the right direction.

“By converting these hotels into housing and continuing to navigate folks into other housing, our region will continue to lead the state on solutions to reduce homelessness,” Faulconer said at an Oct. 12 news conference.

Interfaith provides a wide range of programs designed to empower hungry, homeless, and low-income community members to begin a pathway towards self-sufficiency. They provide basic needs and nutrition support, social services, shelters and housing, employment development, youth programs, senior services, veterans programs and addiction recovery support.

The purchase of the motel now means the expansion of services they can provide to people in need in North County.

Anglea said, “Every room here will be helping another person move forward in their lives."

This story was produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Tania Thorne

Tania Thorne
North County Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI love hearing from the community and listening to what's important to you. No story is too small. If it matters to you, more than likely it matters to somebody else too.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.