REGION — About 18 months ago, Interfaith Community Services put out an ambitious goal: to house or prevent homelessness for 2,019 people in 2019.
And in early December, the Escondido-based nonprofit hit its milestone as it reached 2,022 people, Chief Executive Officer Greg Anglea said. Interfaith had 1,991 people in November and by Dec. 13 the goal was reached, he said.
Anglea said the 2019 campaign built off the 2018 program, which prevented or removed more than 2,000 people from being on the street.
“That was a campaign that said, we need to get people into housing first and foremost,” he said. “They need a stable roof over their head. This year… we increased the amount of people of ever becoming homeless in the first place.”
For Diana Harlan, she called the streets of Oceanside and North County home for 15 years. She said it started from losing her apartment after a police raid and she ended up in jail.
Harlan also lost her kids by the time she was released after about 30 days. Drugs were one of the sources of her downfall, she said, saying she had no place to go.
Her kids landed at San Pasqual Academy, Harlan said, and are doing “excellent.” However, the stress and pressure of losing her children pushed her further into her addiction.
“I’m so very blessed they went there,” the 65-year-old said of San Pasqual Academy.
Harlan said a changing point for her was her age, health, mental health and that she was unable to do another winter on the streets. However, her road to getting into a home took about two years she said.
Harlan connected with the Oceanside Homeless Outreach Team and Interfaith, which then helped her obtain a social security card, identification and birth certificate. During the process her U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing voucher expired, which was a tough blow mentally, Harlan said.
Still, she said she kept her head straight, she got the voucher reinstated, didn’t lose confidence in the process and finally landed an apartment with an ocean view in Oceanside in early December just days before her birthday.
“It was kind of scary, but blessed,” Harlan said of receiving her apartment keys. “Keep your head up and don’t get discouraged. Keep pushing and you’ll come through.”
But for all the good Interfaith and others continue to do, Anglea said every day families on the verge of homelessness continue to seek out their services. He said the most common denominator are families living paycheck to paycheck and suffering multiple hardships, which leads to evictions and homelessness.
He said one individual Interfaith helped was a survivor of the terrorist attack in Poway. The person also lost three caregiving clients leading to a sudden drop in income, Anglea said, leading to financial difficulties.
“We helped her renew a real estate license and prevented her from homelessness with a small amount of rental assistance,” he said. “It’s that strategy to provide small amounts of rental assistance to families who can make ends meet on a normal month. It allowed us to increase the amount of people we could help.”