San Diego Union-Tribune, March 11, 2018
SHELTER NETWORK HOPES TO EXPAND YEAR-ROUND, SEEKS LGTBQ-FRIENDLY MEMBERS
by Gary Warth
Acountywide network of religious congregations that provide winter shelter for hundreds of homeless people hopes to expand and offer its services year-round while also increasing its number of LGBTQ-friendly hosts.
“Homelessness doesn’t start in October and end in May,” said Interfaith Shelter Network Executive Director Trisha Brereton, referring to the months in which the organization operates.
The network provides shelter for about 250 people a year during that time frame, and allows each person stay up to eight weeks.
The network consists of 120 congregations, with 67 hosting shelters in two-week rotations for up to 12 people a night.
Making the network operate year-round would require 26 more hosts in each of its seven branches countywide, or 182 more participants.
KPBS, March 6, 2018
SAN DIEGO HOMELESS SHELTER NETWORK LOOKS TO HELP LGBTQ YOUTH
by Matt Hoffman
The Interfaith Shelter Network relies on over 60 congregations in San Diego County to temporarily house people. In addition to a place to sleep, meals are provided and people work alongside case managers.
On Monday, the Interfaith Shelter Network joined San Diego Pride for a summit at St Paul’s Cathedral near downtown to encourage faith organizations to open their doors to homeless people, including LGBTQ individuals.
According to the nonprofit advocacy organization True Color Fund, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer asked congregations to help out.
San Diego Union Tribune, November 12, 2017
WINTER SHELTERS A RESPITE FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES
by Teri Figueroa
For the last week, Eddie Louise Horace and her grandkids have found shelter at a Del Mar church. Before that, they had been in motel rooms. And when the money ran out, they started living out of her car.
Horace and the little ones are among those who can count on a safe place and warm food, at least for the next few months, now that a few houses of faith have opened their doors to provide winter shelter.
“Sleeping in that car — with two kids, one on the seat, one on the floor, you having to wake up to see who is around — you really can’t sleep but you have to sleep,” Horace said. “Here, I feel safe. We are inside, it’s not cold, I’m able to rest. We are able to be together.”
“Being able to shower is a big deal,” Horace said. “Being able to go to the bathroom is a huge deal. And being able to get a hot meal is critical. When you are sleeping in your car, you don’t have access to those things.”
The churches and synagogues are part of the Interfaith Shelter Network, which teams with about 60 houses of faith throughout the region to provide winter shelter to those in need, two weeks at a time. Another 60 congregations work in support of the network.
“It’s everyone working together to provide shelter for homeless people in San Diego,” said Bill Zucconi, rotational shelter coordinator for the network.
The shelters are divided into seven regions around the county. Some, like the North Coastal region stretching from Del Mar to Oceanside, are already open. Others will not be open until after Christmas. It’s hard enough to find congregations with the space and people to do the job; doing it during the holidays is that much more difficult.
The North Coastal region is one of the larger ones, with 11 faith congregations willing to host families in their facilities for two weeks at a stretch. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was among the first to open this year, providing space last week. The church shelter serving the beach areas — Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and such — have also opened for the year, as has the East County region. Inland North County, which will serve Escondido and more, is slated to start Nov. 20.
Eddie Louise Horace and her two grandchildren, who are homeless, get to sleep on beds instead of inside Horace’s car through a winter rotational shelter program, run by the Interfaith Shelter Network and the Community Resource Center, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. People enrolled in the program rotate to a different participating church every two weeks. (Hayne Palmour IV)
The network has been around for 32 years. St. Peters has been a part of it for 17 years.
“It’s a beloved ministry at this congregation,” said Chistina Grobin, who coordinates the shelter network for the church.
The congregations are responsible for everything during their two-week turn. It’s Grobin’s job to recruit teams to cook, or set up the facility with beds and privacy curtains, or to stay with the families overnight.
Each of the families or individuals lucky enough to land in the rotational program are pre-screened by professional case management agencies, including Community Resource Center in Encinitas, which worked with Horace.
As of last Tuesday, the waiting list for was a little more than a dozen people, but “it will get up there once it starts to get colder,” said Miranda Chavez, who is the integrative services program manager for the Community Resource Center. Preference, she said, is given to families, but individuals do land beds as well. Two people, including an overnight caregiver, were also given beds at St. Peter’s.
Finding enough churches to participate can be a challenge. Add to that the hepatitis A outbreak hitting San Diego County. As of Tuesday, 544 cases of the highly contagious virus had been reported. Twenty people have died, and 372 people had been hospitalized.
This year, the hepatitis A scare led two churches to take a hiatus from the program, one in La Jolla, one in East County. It also led the network to require that all of the people receiving shelter provide proof that they have had the hepatitis A vaccine.
Horace made her way to a county clinic to get the shot. (The kids were already vaccinated.) But she said it was easy, and worth it.
She also said the outbreak led her to decide to forego other shelters and sleep in the car.
“It’s one thing to be homeless,” she said. “It’s another thing to be sick and homeless.”
As Horace spoke Tuesday, her grandchildren — Crescent Swift, 4, and Kenaze Swift, 5 — played across the room, building a castle with large Lego-style blocks. When they are with their grandmother, they nuzzle in quickly.
“We have been treated with dignity and self respect,” Horace said of the people at the host church. “We are not shunned, we’re not looked down upon. It’s been a really loving, supportive, caring environment.”
And as for moving to a new host church every two weeks, Horace said she is fine with that. The kids are OK, as well.
“As far as the kids go, I just let them know, ‘Hey, we are together. … I am here for you. I am not going to leave you. I’m going to be here for you,’” she said.
“I just give them a lot of comfort and assurance that we are going to get through this together.”
INTERFAITHSHELTER NETWORK RECEIVES FIRST PLACE AWARD
IN ANNUAL HARRAH’S NONPROFIT COMPETITION
San Diego, CALIFORNIA—June 14, 2017. Interfaith Shelter Network of San Diego (ISN) has been chosen as this year’s first place recipient of the Harrah’s All-In 4 Change award.
“The $50,000 top prize will fund much-needed services for our homeless clients,” says ISN Executive Director,” Trisha Brereton. “We are very grateful to Harrah’s and to the community for this big vote of support.”
All-In 4 Change is Harrah’s annual charity giveaway where the public votes for their favorite charity from a field of 25 nonprofit organizations. Once a list of pre-screened applicants is posted, on-line voting ensues. Awardees are chosen 50% based on voting and 50% by the decision of the Harrah’s All-In 4 Change committee.
This year, Harrah’s distributed $125,000 to 15 nonprofits from San Diego and Riverside Counties. Harrah’s Resorts Southern California is owned by the Rincon Band of the Luiseno Indians. Both the tribe and the company share a strong commitment to helping the community. All In 4 Change was developed by Harrah’s as a way to involve the community in the giving process and to make it a little more fun at the same time.
“Everyone at ISN is deeply gratified by the outpouring of support it received during the voting process,” states Brereton. “Thousands of supporters cast their votes for ISN, proving that the Network in Interfaith Shelter Network is strong. The collaborative organization is proud of its deep ties with community congregations and individuals, many of whom volunteer for ISN’s programs. She added that special kudos go to ISN administrative volunteer, Laura Miller, who spear-headed a get-out-to-vote effort with the Network, and accepted the award on behalf of ISN.
Each year, hundreds of San Diego’s homeless rely on ISN for shelter, food and other services.
“Our emergency shelters, domestic violence program and rapid re-housing services are needed more than ever as homelessness escalates in San Diego,” Brereton explains.