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Economy

Interfaith Shelter Network Seeks Help Of Churches To Aid Homeless

Tents in San Diego's East Village, Aug. 16, 2016
Ebone Monet
Tents in San Diego's East Village, Aug. 16, 2016

There is a rise in situational homelessness in San Diego, according to those who run Interfaith Shelter Network.

Situational homelessness refers to people who had a place to live within the last year, but then they are forced to live on the streets after an emergency, such as a job loss or death of a primary income earner.

Interfaith works with local churches to provide emergency shelter for homeless men, women and children.

The program's rotational shelter coordinator Bill Zucconi said 15 years ago, it was mostly single men in need of shelter. Now, he said, he sees more children.

“We’re seeing more and more families,” Zucconi said. “The problem of homelessness is growing, it’s not shrinking and it's affecting even a larger portion of the population.”

Case managers with Interfaith Shelter Network help those it serves develop plans to guide them to housing.

Interfaith leaders say it works. Fifty percent of people leave Interfaith shelters with jobs and their own place to live. Interfaith helps about 260 people a year, and managers said that is just a small portion of the need.

"It’s going to take the entire community to seriously tackle the homeless issue, and with the type of service we run, we need more churches to get involved so we can help more people,” Zucconi said.

Interfaith Executive Director Trisha Brereton said the community support often dries up after the holiday season.

“Homelessness is a year around thing,” Brereton said. “It doesn’t start in October. It doesn’t end in April when we don't have our shelters unfortunately. We try to do everything we can so we can help people get to the next step, which is finding a house and finding a job.”