Melody Swaroop, RDHAP, provides free teeth cleaning at the North County Homeless Connection event on Saturday. Dental services were set up in a room used for winter shelter at the Bread of Life Rescue Mission. Photo by Promise Yee
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Homeless Connection provided services from haircuts to housing

OCEANSIDE — The North County Homeless Connection event held in Oceanside on Oct. 10 provided those in need with a one-stop shop for services. Haircuts, flu shots, dental services and a hot meal were provided on the spot.

“We had a church group come in and fix a meal, and that was really great to feed everybody,” Steve Bassett, pastor and executive director of the Bread of Life Rescue Mission, said. “It’s been a really successful day today.”

Bassett said people are grateful to get a hand up. He said he observed a group of men who waited to get haircuts, and afterward showed pride in their new looks.

“It gives them a sense of they look good, and they can stand up in the community,” Bassett said. “They’re human beings and we need to think about them and care about them.”

There were also nonprofits organizations on hand to assist people with Medi-Cal and winter shelter sign ups.

Shelly attended the event and said it was great to let people know about medical and mental health services that can help get them back on track.

Bassett said the day also gives the rescue mission an idea of how many people will be in need of shelter this winter.

According to the 2015 San Diego County point in time homeless count Oceanside has 420 homeless residents, the second highest of the North County cities after Escondido, which has 430.

The Bread of Life Rescue Mission will open its shelter in December and close it in March. The shelter provides a bed, hot meals, showers and a case worker to help get people employed and into permanent housing.

Bassett said the rescue mission is beefing up its fundraising efforts so it can remain open all year.

He said it takes an average of four to six months for a person to gain employment and get into permanent housing. He added the limited winter shelter months do not allow everyone who is taken in time to transition. Those with very high needs stand the risk of perishing on the street without support services.

La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in Carlsbad began year-round operations in August 2015. Interfaith Community Service’s Haven House in Escondido plans to stay open all year after it opens this December. Operation Hope women’s shelter in Vista also plans to be open year-round by 2017.

Bassett said with all four North County shelters open all year it will provide 160 to 180 beds, and be a big help to getting people off the street and into a productive life.

“We’ll really get some people back on track, back into housing and back to work,” Bassett said. “And do a lot of good in our community.”