OCEANSIDE — The city is close to opening its Sobering Services Center, a place where intoxicated individuals can get a warm place to sleep, counseling and other resources, rather than spending a night in jail.
The Oceanside City Council previously approved an agreement in June with McAlister Institute Inc. to operate a Sobering Services Center at 1919 Apple St. in Suites C, D and E.
The center will be funded in part by a County of San Diego grant as well as Measure X funds, the half-cent sales tax that was passed by voters in 2018.
In 2019, the Measure X Citizens Oversight Committee recommended such a center be developed to help inebriated persons experiencing homelessness with temporary or permanent housing placement and support services.
According to the city, homeless shelters are generally not equipped to assist people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is why those people are generally denied from entering.
The new Sobering Services Center is a short-term place where residents can sleep, clean up, receiving clothing, a warm meal and have access to resources where they can get help and start the process of getting off the streets.
The McAlister Institute, which will run the facility, is one of San Diego County’s largest alcohol and other drug treatment providers. McAlister runs 24 programs throughout the county with services spanning prevention, outreach, intervention, outpatient treatment, as well as short-term and long-term residential and sober living.
The facility will also help alleviate time constraints for police officers. Rather than taking an inebriated person to jail in Vista or to the hospital, they can instead take them to the new Sobering Services Center.
“The center will give (the Oceanside Police Department) a place to bring homeless people who are inebriated – a safe warm place to sleep it off and get hot food, fresh clothes, wash their own clothes, and counseling and resources to better their lives,” said Terry Gorman Brown of the City Manager’s Office via email. “Without it, officers can spend hours taking the person to the hospital or to jail where they really don’t want to hold them anyway.”
Oceanside previously had a sobering services program that had to close at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007 and 2008.
“It made it a lot easier for officers to get back on the streets,” Sgt. Jim Ridenour previously told The Coast News. Ridenour is the supervisor of the Oceanside Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT).
According to Brown, the center is set up and ready to go but is just waiting on permits and final inspections.