North County's Homeless Housing Network Now Helping Twice As Many People
This year, three of the four emergency homeless housing shelters in North County are open year-round. And the lone seasonal winter shelter would like to be open year-round, too.
More than 2,000 people in North County experience homelessness on any one night: that’s according to the 2017 “Point In Time Count" by San Diego’s Regional Taskforce on the Homeless. The number of unsheltered homeless people rose in last year’s count.
The Bread of Life Emergency Winter Shelter in Oceanside opened in November, a month early this year, thanks to a grant from the city of Oceanside. Bread of Life has two dormitories, with just 50 beds altogether for individual men and women. They are full and there is a waiting list.
Pastor Alan Lauer runs Bread of Life. He said even though it’s not as cold in San Diego as it is in Chicago, it is still dangerous for people, especially people in poor health, to be homeless in winter.
“We’ve had people die out in the bushes here,” he said, “because just being out in the elements when it does rain or it’s cold does tend to create fatalities.”
Lauer is hoping to get funding to stay open year-round, and he would like to focus on people coming out of the hospital who have nowhere to go home to.
Year-Round Bridge Housing
Greg Anglea is head of Interfaith Community Services in Escondido and president of Alliance for Regional Solutions, a network of North County agencies that work with the homeless. He said by going year-round, the shelters are able to help twice the number of people.
“This last year, three of the winter shelters began operating year-round, so we went from serving 538 individuals to serving on 1,031 over the course of a year,” he said. “As a region, this last year in North County, we successfully ended homelessness for 546, which is more people than the entire system even served the previous year."
Anglea said the network received about $200,000 from North County cities, and the shelter programs costs $1.5 million a year to operate.
The year-round shelters help people deal with barriers to finding permanent housing and try to get them into a home of their own in 60 days. About half of those who go through the program ended up in permanent housing at the end of it, Anglea said.
“We’re really called, all of us at Alliance for Regional Solutions and Interfaith Community Services, to help people permanently end their homelessness and to address the underlying causes that may have led to them being homeless,” Anglea said, “and by being able to do that year-round, we’re able to help more people and at high rates of success.”
Of the individuals and families that Interfaith Community Services has helped to get back into permanent housing over the past couple of years, 90 percent are still there, Anglea said. He is pushing for more community help to raise the first and last month’s rent for families that can meet monthly expenses but can't handle emergency situations that land them on the streets.
The report on the shelter network shows at least 20 percent of those who went through the shelter program returned to somewhere like a car or a canyon. Anglea said on any night, more than 1,000 people in North County are sleeping in cars, canyons, friend’s couches, or on the street.