Operation HOPE, 859 E. Vista Way, received unanimous support for a $225,000 forgivable loan from the Vista City Council during its Dec. 8 meeting. The forgivable city loan will pay off a $203,000 balance for a loan from the San Diego Foundation (TSDF) and free up cash flow for the nonprofit serving the homeless, according to Mayor Judy Ritter, who brought forward the item.
Operation HOPE’s monthly payment for the TSDF loan is $2,200, but the new city loan will allow Operation HOPE to pay off the loan and reinvest the savings into its services.
“It would kind of mimic the same terms as the original loan with the city,” Ritter said. “I think it does a great job of taking the homeless off the street. It helps them with a money cash flow of $2,200 so they can help families make a rent payment.”
Founded in 2003, the nonprofit has served thousands of residents battling homelessness or on the brink, according to a letter from board president Cindy Taylor to the city. Taylor said their facility provides a safe space for families and single women, while case managers work with those people to create individualized action plans.
In 2012, Operation HOPE raised more than $1 million to buy land and build a new facility. Additionally, the nonprofit received $225,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the city, which is 100% forgivable with 0% interest, Taylor said in her letter.
In 2016, the organization expanded into a year-round facility, Ritter said.
A message left with Operation HOPE seeking comment was not returned by the deadline.
“Your additional help would provide a substantial monthly impact on our programs and services,” Taylor said in her letter. “Your funding would provide financial security for the organization and allow us to focus on long-term sustainability and our core programs.”
Over the past year, the city has been aggressive in its pursuits of addressing the homeless issue. The City Council created a Homeless Strategic Plan and, in coordination with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, have cleared numerous encampments.
However, the challenge of finding housing solutions remains, although the city has developed strong ties with a number of service providers.
As for Operation HOPE, the nonprofit engaged in a new fundraising campaign, “Keep HOPE Afloat,” which landed several new major donors, according to Taylor’s letter.
Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said Operation HOPE is an “incredible asset” to the city. She said they provide a great environment and the individuals using Operation HOPE’s services are having a good experience and are on their way to create a better life for themselves and their families.
“I’ve seen the tremendous impact they’ve made on our community,” Councilman Joe Green added. “I think this is a great opportunity to help an organization that has helped so many.”