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Interfaith to expand recuperative care and family shelter for homeless in Escondido

A trip to the hospital for someone experiencing homelessness may get them off the street long enough to be treated. But when discharge time comes, homeless people often end up back on the streets. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us a solution to that problem is on the way in Escondido.

In October 2020, Interfaith Community Services purchased a motel in Escondido with a vision of turning the property into a recuperative care center where people experiencing homelessness could heal after a hospital stay.

Two years later, that vision is closer to becoming a reality.

"So much has gone into this project that it just took time to bring a 1970s-era budget motel to 2022 residential care facility standards," said Greg Anglea, the CEO of Interfaith Community Services.

The Abraham & Lillian Turk Recuperative Care Center will offer 106 beds where homeless people who are discharged from the hospital can go to heal and work toward securing stable housing.

"If somebody is at our local hospital, say Palomar Hospital, and they're ready for discharge, but they don't have a safe home to recover in ... they'll be transferred straight to our recuperative care center," Anglea said. "We’ll help them recover from the medical procedure, or if it was a psychiatric hospitalization, we’ll help them get stabilized with their mental health, and then we’ll help them secure a stable home.”

Tania Thorne
Pictured, a recovery room at Interfaith Community Services' new Abraham and Lillian Turk Recuperative Care Center for the homeless in Escondido, Calif. October 31, 2022.

Anglea said the alternative to the recuperative center is discharging homeless people back onto the streets or to a shelter that may not be equipped to follow a plan of care. But at the center, "We have registered nurses, we have licensed vocational nurses, social workers, case managers to help an individual heal and recover and identify the strategy and complete the strategies to end their homelessness,” he said.

Stays at the recuperative center will range between 30 to 90 days. Anglea said caseworkers will assist with securing housing through a "variety of ways ... everything from transitional treatment program, reunification with family, permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing."

In 2020, Interfaith estimated the project would cost $10 million, but that amount grew to $15 million after all the renovations. San Diego County is providing $9 million, and $5 million is coming from private donors. The final $1 million is a loan to be paid by operational partnerships with health care.

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.
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.

Recuperative care isn't new to Interfaith Community Services. Thirty-two recovery beds were already being offered at Interfaith's Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center. also in Escondido.

That's where Marine Corp veteran John Goolsby went to recover after being discharged from the VA hospital. He said he had nowhere to turn.

“They (Interfaith staff) were very kind and caring people that didn't push me, didn’t force me to do anything. Just basically guided me in the direction, with the resources to help myself, and over the few months there, I've recovered and gotten my confidence back," he said.

Goolsby said he lost trust in programs that were offered to him while homeless.

"It seems like there’s not really any help for single males. ... Man, it is hundreds, if not thousands of people out there that's in a similar situation. It's just heartbreaking," Goolsby said.  

With a safe and clean bed to recover in at the Hawthorne Center, a case worker helped Goolsby get his life on track.

Tania Thorne
Interfaith Community Services client, John Goolsby (right), sits with his case worker (left) at the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center in Escondido, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2022.

“I'm looking for an apartment right now, a studio probably, because I don't need that much space being that I dumped all the material — I just need the basics," Goolsby said. "I wanna go back to school, educate myself. I wanna get back into the community and give back to help others,” he said.

Once the new Abraham and Lillian Turk Care center is open, all recuperative care cases will transition over to the new site, leaving the Hawthorne facility to take on a new mission: sheltering and helping homeless families.

"It's more and more common that we have families with children coming to us who are living in their cars, who are finding refuge on our streets," said Anglea. "So this center will be a place of short-term housing and support to help those families get on their feet to support those kids and those adults and get them into home of their own."

The Hawthorne center will be able to house between 10 to 14 families at once.

Donations and volunteers to help support the operation of the family shelter are still being sought.

Both centers are expected to open by January 2023.

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