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Del Mar church turned into homeless shelter for two weeks

St Peter’s Episcopal Church has transformed its parish hall into a temporary place to stay for up to a dozen people experiencing homelessness. They'll be offered home-cooked meals, hot showers and private sleeping cubicles, as part of the Interfaith Shelter Network Rotational Program.

The event has been running for the past 35 years, and involves different faith groups from across San Diego turning their places of worship into accommodation for the homeless for two weeks at a time. It's the first Interfaith Shelter Network Rotational Program that St Peter's has hosted since the pandemic.

“One of the things we love about this program is that it’s not a Band-Aid," said Rector, Page Blair-Hubert. “It’s actually trying to address immediate needs ... to help these individuals change their lives and have stability and sense of home that many of us might take for granted”.

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Applicants are screened by social services for drug and alcohol abuse before they can take part in the program. Guests must also be willing to work alongside a case manager to find solutions to the issues which contributed to their homelessness. Around 50% of those who take part go on to find permanent housing.

Julissa Sosa is the program manager at the Interfaith Shelter Network Rotational Program. “We plan out workshops such as budget planning," she said. "So we’ll have somebody come and volunteer and they’ll go ahead and teach them about budgeting, and we also have career development workshops as well”.

Next to host the event, will be St James's Church in Solana Beach. Charles Seiler is one of the current guests at St Peter's. He's been homeless for over 10 years, and often sleeps in his car. “Honestly, I think it's a wonderful idea" he told KPBS News. "Something like this where it's secure. Security can't get better than this".

Volunteer, Joan Swecker, is spending the night at St Peter's to ensure guests stay safe and well cared for. “They have come from very bad situations," she said. "We simply want to make them feel that they are important. We want to make them feel like they perhaps haven't felt before”.

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And with more rain in the forecast, this program couldn’t come at a better time for people needing shelter.