ENCINITAS — County District Attorney candidate Summer Stephan and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear touted the Community Resource Center’s efforts in eradicating homelessness and protecting victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking at the organization’s annual English Tea fundraiser.
Stephan, a career prosecutor who currently serves as the Chief Deputy District Attorney and is Bonnie Dumanis’ choice for to succeed her in office, was the keynote speaker at the 22nd annual fundraiser for the Encinitas-based nonprofit.
Stephan’s remarks to the 200 people in attendance focused on domestic violence and the efforts by her agency and others to stem the tide of incidents countywide.
“We have to turn the tide on domestic violence and domestic violence death,” said Stephan, who pointed out that despite a 47-year low in violent crime, law enforcement officials have been unable to get a handle on domestic violence.
“Why do mostly men beat and injury mostly women?” Stephan asked, rhetorically, “Why is this a statistic that we can’t get rid of?”
Community Resource Center provides services to homeless and housing insecure residents, victims of domestic violence and low-income residents, including tax preparation, housing assistance and shelters for domestic violence victims and their children.
The organization operates a 24-bed emergency shelter and provides critical counseling and support services to hundreds of individuals in crisis each year.
Stephan, who pioneered the district attorney’s sex crimes and human trafficking divisions, said that the office has partnered with law enforcement on several initiatives.
One of the initiatives helps to better identify the signs of strangulation among domestic violence victims — which can lead to harsher penalties for the perpetrators. The second increases outreach and assistance to the children of domestic violence victims through partnerships with organizations like Community Recreation Center, the Family Justice Center and Children’s Hospital of San Diego.
“We have to break this standstill in this crime,” she said. “We rely on partnerships like the ones we have with CRC to help protect our victims.”
Blakespear, who spoke before Stephan, talked about the city’s longstanding partnerships with Community Resource Center in the area of homelessness.
She pointed to a pilot program between the city and group spurred by a $100,000 grant aimed at boosting case management and housing navigation services, which Blakespear said has already led to the 22 people — including five veterans — finding permanent housing.
Blakspear also discussed the results of the recent regional homeless count, which she said is critical to helping the city and groups like Community Resource Center refine their efforts.
The count revealed 74 people who were living on the streets and in cars and in shelters.
“Together working with CRC, we will be able to build a better future in our city and our nation for people who are homeless and housing insecure,” said Blakespear, who cited a statistic that one in eight North County residents live in poverty. “These are our most vulnerable community members, and we need to help them grow stronger and find stable and permanent housing, and this will in turn make our city stronger.”
The annual English Tea Fundraiser, themed after “The Secret Garden,” included a silent auction and traditional tea and luncheon before the program.