Interfaith recommended to run Oceanside homeless shelter

Interfaith recommended to run Oceanside homeless shelter


Interfaith Community Services is the leading candidate to open and operate a 50-bed homeless shelter on the former Ocean Shores High School campus that the city of Oceanside purchased for $1.88 million in December.

A collaborator with cities across San Diego County, Interfaith is the most qualified of four agencies that submitted proposals for the project as of the April 30 deadline, said Megan Crooks, a senior management analyst, in a presentation Tuesday to the city’s Housing Commission.

The Housing Commission unanimously supported the city staff’s recommendation to approve Interfaith. A final decision is expected at the Oceanside City Council’s June 16 meeting.

The other proposals included one from Davidson School of Arts & Crafts to run an art school, which the city dismissed as not responsive to the request, Crooks said. Proposals by the San Diego Rescue Mission and by a partnership between Homeless Veterans of San Diego, Casas de Luz, and Oceanside Homeless Resource were addressed to the shelter, but were found inadequate.

Interfaith is a 40-year-old association of San Diego County faith-based groups with more than 3,000 volunteers, 150 staff members and about 17,000 clients. Its programs include housing, employment, support, recovery and wellness, and clinical and behavioral health.

“We recognize the need to connect with services,” said Carol Brooks, an Oceanside resident and Interfaith board member.

Interfaith social workers are part of the Oceanside Police Department’s homeless outreach teams that have daily contact with people on the streets, she said.

The agency proposes to address the mental and physical health needs of adults over age 18 with up to 50 beds in a four-month program. Wrap-around services include counseling, employment and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Residents are expected to stay about four months at the shelter, officials said.

The proposal includes partnerships with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, Vista Community Clinic, TrueCare, North County LGBTQ Resource Center, Alliance for Regional Solutions, and the Luck Duck Foundation.

Interfaith is requesting $975,136 in operational funding for the first year, according to the city staff report. The property would be leased for $1 a year. The operational money is available from a mixture of local, state and federal sources available to provide shelter for the homeless.

Most of the school buildings on the property would be demolished and removed, officials said. The site would be graded and a prefabricated structure would be erected. The city could continue to use parts of the property for other, unrelated municipal activities.

The new building will have room for the shelter and to house staff members, with bathrooms, an industrial kitchen, laundry, private offices and a common area for dining, classes and other activities during the day.

Each individual will have a semi-private living area with a bed and a dresser, bed linens, a locker for medications and possessions, and access to showers, a laundry and other facilities. Pets will be allowed, with oversight and veterinary care provided by the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter.

The homeless shelter would be one of the few in North County and the only one in Oceanside.

Interfaith also operates a shelter called Haven House in Escondido with 45 beds for men and women. Carlsbad has La Posada de Guadalupe operated by Catholic Charities with 50 beds for migrant workers and 50 beds for homeless men, and Operation Hope has a shelter in Vista with 45 beds for women and their children.

By most accounts, North County has a large and growing homeless population. Unprecedented unemployment and job losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic have hit low-income individuals hardest, increasing their housing insecurity.

Some of the most frequently cited statistics come from the county’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which does a one-day, point-in-time count each year in January. The count was not done this year because of the pandemic, so the most recent data is from 2020.

Coastal North County had 383 unsheltered individuals and inland North County had 338, according to the 2020 point-in-time count. Oceanside had 242 unsheltered individuals, the fourth highest number for cities in San Diego County.

Interfaith’s clinical director, Megan Hawker, said Tuesday that the agency contacted more than 600 homeless individuals in Oceanside in 2020, and that it helped 122 of those people move off the streets and into some type of shelter.

The Oceanside City Council unanimously approved an emergency motel voucher program in April, an action intended to provide relief for the increasing number of homeless sleeping in tents in public places. Within about a week, the city removed one of the city’s most visible encampments along South Oceanside Boulevard and covered the ground with rocks and concrete.

Most of the homeless from South Oceanside Boulevard were given motel vouchers, but since then some have returned to the streets.





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