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Churches Pitch In To Help San Diego Homeless

Brandon Smith (left) with the Alpha Project outreach team gives a homeless man a pair of rain boots and a rain jacket ahead of forecasted heavy rains in San Diego, Jan. 4, 2016.
Susan Murphy
Brandon Smith (left) with the Alpha Project outreach team gives a homeless man a pair of rain boots and a rain jacket ahead of forecasted heavy rains in San Diego, Jan. 4, 2016.
Churches Pitch In To Help San Diego Homeless
Churches Pitch In To Help San Diego Homeless GUESTS: Trisha Brereton, executive director, Interfaith Shelter Network Fran Friesen, coordinator, Helping Hands, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar

Mid Day Edition on KPBS Tom Fudge. This week range made it even more difficult to be homeless in San Diego. Is undertakes adjusted the churches to provide shelter and that got us a reaction and index San Diego interfaith shelter network set they were stepping up and had been doing it for many years. El Niño rains are expected to return next week and today we will speak with two people who can tell us exactly what San Diego churches are doing to put a roof over the heads of people who do not have one. Joining me in studio is Trisha Brereton Executive Director of the Interfaith Shelter Network and thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. Fran Friesen joins us by phone and coordinate Helping Hands, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar in Delmar expect thank you for being in the show. Thank you for letting us voice our concerns as well and what we are doing to help in our little way. So life so it churches -- why should churches help the homeless? But we have a series of churches that have been working with the homeless for 30 years now are starting our 30th anniversary this year which is pretty exciting. Typically we have what is called rotational shelter, and it rotates between different congregations of faith and we have about 124 congregations of faith throughout the county. Is this part of your mission of charity? It is. What you think about that Fran Friesen ? But we're part of our church St. Peter's in Delmar visible church as part of that interfaith. Yes it is. We have for two weeks in November usually, so we are very much a part of that. Okay. Very good. I was going to ask you how many churches and I think you may have answered the question, 120? About 124. What makes them worse of the network what do they do? They agreed to do is to house 12 homeless people for a two-week period of time in their facility, provides a provision and overnight assistance. And three meals a day. They are hosting homeless people did you say for two weeks? But they are for two weeks and then the stop people rotate to another shelter, another congregation of faith and then another congregation of faith where a case management organization so the people into the shelter by going through one of our case managers throughout the whole County. Trying to figure out the mouth at here. Presenting your helping and anyone time told people that. 12 people times seven different branches that we haven't usually have about 260-275 people during season. 1012, why don't you talk specifically about St. Peter's church and what to do for the network? But okay, St. Peter's has a program called Helping Hands. We are open Monday, Wednesday, Friday -- there's a Friday morning from nine until 11 AM. For those four days of the week we provide first of all for me as a volunteer, very important service of just being a safe place to be for the amount of time we can be open or if you need a hug, you get a hug. A sense of community when you can gather with people who are sometimes in your same situation. We also provide simple food, we do not have the ability or sitdown meal but we provide simple food assemblages, cereal and coffee, douches, we also have bagged lunch that we can give someone to go with some water. Which contains advice of one of either chicken or two seller protein bars. We give out hygiene products and have clothing available for our guests. We providing shelter last week? We were not. Our shelter is the two weeks in November. We could just provide to our services on those days that we are open. Trish, whether churches -- curious about last week because that is when we got the torrential rains. We had seven churches that were sheltering. We also have some of the other churches that have -- they were not in the rotation but that had contacted by the Red Cross and had agreed to open their doors for people for example College Avenue, Baptist, was wonderful and the Red Cross came in and set up cots and did all the stuff. They house I think 50 people in their gymnasium on the spur of the moment. College Avenue, Baptist [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] Less than a mile away from KPBS so I know what church you are talking about . Exactly. In people's bathrooms and showers? Is the place either has facilities or made arrangements with -- like the gym across the street or whatever to provide sheltering, washing machines, dryers, showers, some of our congregations provide haircuts and things like that because it is what they like to do. Friend, is that the case in tell more? But I don't know very much about housing for the homeless intolerant but when you said haircuts I know that is something we can offer to gentlemen or ladies and come for the warning time that we are here. But I honestly cannot tell you much about the housing year. But in your church do you have -- I mean your part of the rotation, right? You have homeless people stating a church? During the time they were open yes we have the ability in November. Or two weeks is November. Okay. What does it look like it will put this question to you Tricia, to people sleep on the church basement floor? No, we provide caught in the air mattress. And the congregation in typically bring in pillows, blankets, all that kind of stuff. There is access to additional hygiene products when they leave. Clothing. We also provide workshops for budgeting, and planning for finances. As well as job search in career planning skills. How are people referred to the interfaith shelter network? We have seven case managers throughout the county. Catholic charities, Pacific and ministries and variety throughout the country's economy and people can go and call 2118 get to one of her case managers and that is how they gain entrance to the shelter. Are listening to Mid Day Edition on Tom Fudge talking about interfaith shelter network and guess our Trisha Brereton with executive director of the network and also joining me by phone is Fran Friesen who coordinates Helping Hands, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar . Tricia, is the network entirely staffed by volunteers but it is it is an amazing feat. These people we have over 4000 unduplicated volunteers that work with us on an annual basis and have been doing is for 30 years. Without that we cannot exist. Who are the homeless that you are trying to help because homeless fall into lots of different categories of people who are temporary homeless and the Chronicle is that many of whom suffer mental illness and who are you targeting? We basically target situationally homeless were temporarily homeless individuals and help them get back on their feet. These people are typically -- do not have drug addiction or alcohol addiction. Because we utilize volunteers as our service providers. Sounds like you're saying you just do not have the staff to deal with what we would call the chronic illness? We have a very small staff. We also have transitional housing for domestic violence. 11 apartment -- 11 unit apartment complex and we do rapid rehousing for individuals from our programs and others to get them back in apartments. I think you're talking about L Needo, transitional housing project for victims of domestic violence and their children. Friend let me get back to Delmar and as you over the time that you have spent volunteering for the shelter program, have gotten to know any of these folks stayed at your church and do you know if they were able to transition to a regular home? The ones that we have been over the years, many of them have, many were able to get permanent housing, several continue to work in their jobs. Yes, we have some that have come back to offer their volunteering and in fact that happen to us this year, a woman who had been in the program in the past came back as a volunteer with her children. She cooked meals for the people here is your. -- This year. Tricia, you story to tell about some of them came through the program who is now doing well? I can give you lots of them until we don't have time anymore, but yes, we had a gentleman recently in our rapid rehousing program where we provide rental assistance on a case-by-case basis, deposits and such..nl the gentleman that is the property manager of the place where he first placed our first family had been in a rotational shelter. We had helped him find a job. And lo and behold now. You must place our people that are currently reading a health in his apartment complex. Who are these people? People who have just lost the job? Most of the people we serve have lost the job. Have had a divorce. Have had a series of major illness that they did not -- are not covered for insurance in that sort of thing so yes, maybe six months ago they were in an apartment and everything was cool but they did not have a lot of savings or resources, so when they -- the last paycheck came, they were just out of luck. I was taking a look at your website, I took a look at your budget, it suggested their annual budget is something in the neighborhood of half $1 million. That is correct. Where do you get your money? We are frugal, let me tell you [Laughter] real fortunate in having wonderful contributors. We get grants, we have HUD contract for traditional housing that pays for about a third of it. That type of thing so we are always on the hunt, what can I say. Anything you want to add to that friend, raising money? I try to avoid money and I just volunteer my time and we love to see more housing. I know that is an important part of the homeless situation. More affordable housing. San Diego is an expensive place to live. Yes, it is. Trisha, is presently a little bit we were talking about rental assistance that you provided to some people. That is also something you do? It is. We have been very fortunate. The regional continuum of care provides a variety of grants and we have been fortunate to get grants, several grants, that will help pay for people to get their deposits, SDG&E bill in that kind of stuff we are very careful about who be taken because we want them to be successful. And then we case manager for at least six months. Is there anything you would like to do that you are unable to do? I would love to be able to do a whole bunch more. Sheltering system to go year-round as opposed to October-May. Does not start -- you don't start being homeless in October and all of a sudden intimate you're done. When you talk about sheltering system are you talking about rotational shelter interfaith shelter network? Yes. But not able to do that simply because of lack of resources. We don't have enough churches and congregations. Is white or on Mid Day Edition to ask of their other congregations. We always look for additional congregations of faith. When some people think of staying at his church -- in charge wondered whether a religious message comes with them. Will make this one of our roles. Maybe Grace for dinner is great but past that, no. The church is of course can invite people to come on Sunday for their services if they wish, but that is as far as it goes. Does not go past that. Friend, any comment on that? No, I find that also even with our duty program, we may be asked by a guest to please say a prayer for me, but they never feel like we are pressuring them to attend the service or be part of a program, so I think that is part of getting love and acceptance to anyone who is homeless at this point. They just need to know that they are respected for who they are. Trisha, anything else you want to add ? It is a fabulous program. We are very pleased to be able to do this. We would like to be able to do more and we can with volunteers. You can go to our website volunteer or give us a buzz that type of thing so just amazing. Trisha Brereton is executive director of the interfaith shelter network and Trisha, thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me due And thank you to Fran Friesen who coordinates Helping Hands, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar which is part of the Interfaith Shelter Network. Thank you. Thank you and can I just add a plug for any facility that might be available for a day program such as we have here at Helping Hands, we might not be able to provide shelter, but we can provide food and clothing that they might need on a daily basis. Any other areas or charges that could do something in a short-term would be appreciated as well. Okay thank you.

Homeless advocate and Alpha Project president Bob McElroy expressed frustration that San Diego churches were not doing enough to aid the homeless during this cold, wet Winter last Thursday on Midday Edition.

We found that some local churches are doing quite a lot for the homeless, although not as much as they would like to do.

The Interfaith Shelter Network is a countywide organization of 120 churches which provide shelter on a rotating basis to transitionally homeless individuals and families, including those who have just lost a job or are fleeing domestic violence.

They are carefully vetted and provided shelter, food and clothing. This service takes them out of the city and county shelter systems, leaving more room for the chronically homeless.

Church staffs do not include professionals who are able to deal with the severe problems of the the chronically homeless, so they serve those they are able to help.

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