The Coast News Group
Volunteer Roslyn Mullins helps out at the Community Resource Center food pantry in Encinitas. The resource center is one of five North County nonprofit groups that helps those in need with food and winter shelter. Photo by Promise Yee

Winter shelters set to open in North County

COAST CITIES — Six transitional homeless shelters are set to open for the winter months. 

The shelters are open from December through March and collectively provide beds and services for 244 individuals. The goal of the shelters is to help people get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.

The six shelters are spread throughout North County and run by the Bread of Life Rescue Mission, Interfaith Community Services, Salvation Army, Community Resource Center, Operation Hope and Catholic Charities.

All six shelters are funded in part by Alliance for Regional Solutions. The umbrella organization also helps the nonprofit groups network and keep track of area clients.

Shelter residents are assigned to a case manager who guides them to access services, actively seek work and find permanent shelter. Residents who receive services cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Each shelter is unique in its day-to-day operations and the specific population it serves.

The Bread of Life Rescue Mission on Apple Street in Oceanside opens on Dec. 1. It shelters 18 women and 32 men in separate bunk bed quarters.

Residents range in age from 18 to 70 and are helped on a first come, first served basis.

“When one person is squared away as far as housing we bring another one in,” Pastor Steve Bassett, of Bread of Life Rescue Mission, said.

The routine is fairly structured. Residents eat dinner at 4:30 p.m., settle in for the night by 7 p.m. and need to be out and doing something productive by 7 a.m.

A light breakfast, sack lunch and hot dinner is provided.

Saturdays and Sundays residents can sleep in until 9 a.m.

On Sundays they can attend mass in the morning and evening.

Bassett said one of the most important things the shelter provides residents is a safe place to stay.

The Bread of Life Rescue Mission shelter is open through March 31. If residents have not found permanent housing 30 days before the winter shelter closes, they create an exit plan with their case manager.

Their next step may be to relocate to another shelter, stay at a campground, or seek temporary housing.

The Community Resource Center in Encinitas houses 14 women and children through the North County Coastal Interfaith Shelter Network.

It is a rotational shelter in which residents stay two weeks at one church and than relocate to another church.

Each host church provides three daily meals and showers. A set of inflatable mattresses and bedding is moved with the residents.

“It’s the very basics,” Esmeralda Ohlmeier, social services manager of Community Resource Center, said. “Bedding and some kind of privacy.”

“It’s a bridge to more permanent housing,” she added.

Each church recruits volunteers to cook and serve food. Oftentimes entertainment and other extras are provided.

“Different groups volunteer,” Ohlmeier said. “They take over the meal that evening. Some do crafts. Yesterday in Del Mar they gave free haircuts.”

The goal is to transition residents to permanent housing through temporary support and case management.

“It is not counseling,” Ohlmeier said. “It’s getting them work ready to find a job, secure housing, or find better employment.”

Ohlmeier added that the opportunity to talk to other women in a similar situation is helpful to residents.

The Community Resource Center, North County Coastal Interfaith Shelter Network is open now through March 14. Residents typically stay for eight weeks before they find permanent housing.