North County community resources unite to help homeless

North County community resources unite to help homeless
Volunteers check in homeless individuals and direct them to the most beneficial services available, as tens more people seeking services wait in line out the door. Photo by Rachel Stine

COAST CITIES — Community resources ranging from shelters to legal aid united to serve those in need for the Day of Hope for Homeless expo at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Nov. 14. The Alliance for Regional Services (ARS), a collaboration of North County agencies and philanthropic organizations that combine resources to provide better services for the homeless at a cheaper cost, hosted the event for the second year in a row.

At the event, volunteers checked homeless individuals in and directed them to booths providing services as haircuts, shelter referrals, dental screenings, employment workshops, and free clothes and hygiene products. ARS provided shuttle services for people from various agencies and churches throughout North County and brought them to the expo.

Thomas Troyer, 48, who received services at the expo, said the event was “fabulous” because so many services were in the same place.

Cullen Bendele, 40, gets a haircut and shave from Natalie Peterson from the California Institute of Cosmetology. Bendele said he hopes to get a job at the expo so he can buy a new vehicle. Photo by Rachel Stine

The biggest difficulty in serving homeless individuals in North County is that all of the resources are spread out across multiple cities, making it challenging for some people to access the appropriate resources, said Donald Stump, ARS president and the executive director of Lifeline North County.

The Day of Hope for Homeless expo aims to connect people with a variety of services all in one location, he said.

Laurin Pause, community resource coordinator for ARS, said she hopes that the event “actually connects people to services they can use beyond today, because homelessness won’t be solved in a day.”

The organizers hoped to serve over 125 people at this year’s event.

“If we get one homeless person in a shelter tonight that wouldn’t have been otherwise, that would be a success,” said Stump.

But more than that, he hopes the event will be able to help people get established in a more permanent shelter and on their way to living independently.

“Living on the streets is hard, even in beautiful San Diego,” he said.

Over the past five years, the ARS North County committee has provided shelter and case management services at four sites in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and Escondido. The committee also includes rotating shelters at local churches coordinated by the Interfaith Shelter Network.

This year, the shelters will offer a total of 239 beds per night, and will be open for 90 to 140 days, depending on the shelter. Some shelters are already open.

Last year, 488 individuals received shelter from the six ARS winter shelters in North County, according to the organization’s shelter report released in June.

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