Housing is part of a five-city effort to end family homelessness

Housing is part of a five-city effort to end family homelessness
Oceanside City Council gave the green light to a development agreement for affordable apartments on Weitzel Street. Groundbreaking is two years off. Photo by Promise Yee

REGION — Oceanside City Council gave the green light to a development agreement for the Weitzel Street apartments June 3, which moves the affordable housing project one step closer to breaking ground.

The housing is part of a five-city effort by Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos and Escondido, and headed by Solutions for Change to solve family homelessness.

“Oceanside, Escondido, Carlsbad all have housing developments in the pipeline,” Chris Megison, Solutions for Change president and executive director, said.

Solutions for Change has worked with homeless families for close to 20 years. The nonprofit’s 1,000-day program trains parents in service leadership so they can lead their families and serve as leaders in the community.

Parents, including veterans, go through rigorous leadership training that instills hope and compassion, provides opportunity and demands accountability. Initial training takes place on Solutions for Change’s main campus in Vista.

After 500 days participants in the program are employed and ready to transition to permanent housing with their families, while they continue the next 500 days in the program.

Solutions for Change offers participants employment in property development and management, and work at its aquaponics farm.

The Weitzel Street apartments will be another housing site for families, and bring regional units to 103. Twenty percent of the units at the Oceanside site will be set-aside for military veterans and their families.

Megison said he is proud to help veterans get back on their feet.

“These men and women served our country,” Megison said. “We’re helping them get back into the work force.”

Councilmen Jerry Kern and Jack Feller voiced strong support for the project last Wednesday.

“The couple of sites I visited were outstanding,” Feller said.

The Oceanside apartments will be built on a city-owned lot that has been earmarked for affordable housing. The land sits adjacent to I-5, and was previously the site of a community garden, which has been relocated.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez asked if the housing would include assurances for neighborhood safety, specifically criminal background checks, and no alcohol on site.

Megison was not present during City Council discussion. Following the meeting he said it is the policy of Solutions for Change not to allow a person who has been convicted of a violent crime, sexual assault or pedophile act to live in the family housing units for the safety of children and residents.

He added it is also a policy that residents are drug- and alcohol-free in order to maintain a healthy environment.

“You will not see partying in our communities at 10 or 11 at night,” Megison said. “It’s not what we do, it’s not who we are.”

Megison said program participants voluntarily agree to be drug- and alcohol-free during the 1,000-day program.

He said they are also signed up on affordable housing waiting lists, so adults who want to enjoy a glass of wine have the option to live elsewhere once they complete the 1,000-day training.

Megison said homeless families come from all walks of life. Some families experience a health crisis or disability that leaves them unable to make ends meet. Others make a series of wrong choices that leaves them homeless.

He added by the time families are living in the units they are responsible, employed full time and paying their bills.

Megison said he has learned a lot by working with families who are getting back on their feet.

“All of us are so incredibly endowed,” Megison said. “There are incredible strengths in all of us.”

At this point close to half of the funding has been secured to build the estimated $10 million apartment complex from the ground up.

“It’s very much in the early stages,” Megison said.

Raising remaining funds and obtaining necessary entitlements and approvals is expected to take a couple of years before groundbreaking begins.

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