Interfaith doubles down on prevention, homeless program

Interfaith doubles down on prevention, homeless program
Interfaith Community Services has launched its Housing 2019 program, which aims to prevent and end homelessness for at least 2,019 people by the end of 2019. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — Removal and prevention for 2,109 people.

It’s the lofty goal for Interfaith Community Services to end or prevent homelessness for the rest of this year and next.

Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith, said the Housing 2019 program is coming off the heels of last year’s efforts, which saw the nonprofit prevent or end homelessness for 1,198 people.

“For preventing, it’s for a family that has a three-day quit-or-pay notice and are about to lose their housing,” he explained.

Of the total, Anglea said nearly homeless was ended for nearly 750 people, while 450 people were prevention cases. To tackle the issue of homelessness, he said a bigger focus must be placed on prevention as a method to keep people off the streets.

Housing 2019 began in July and runs through the end of 2019.

“The reality is the people who we are ending homelessness for costs thousands of dollars,” Anglea explained. “For preventing homelessness, it’s hundreds of dollars. We’re usually able to prevent homelessness for about $500 to $1,000, and that includes staff time. It’s cheaper, but most importantly, it’s less traumatic on the family.”

While Interfaith remains focused on helping the homeless, it’s expanding its focus by adding and raising awareness about the roots of the problem.

At Interfaith’s Carlsbad location, 5731 Palmer Way, some days see two calls per hour from individuals or families seeking rental or some other form of assistance.

One traumatic event, Anglea says, is all it takes for a well-to-do or middle-class family or individual to end up on the streets. It’s another reason Interfaith incorporates a day laborer program in addition to general services and a food pantry.

Additionally, the nonprofit works with the homeless to identify long-term self-sufficiency, which may include temporary job placement and upgrading job skills to land a full-time job.

Housing, meanwhile, is the biggest challenge as rents have steadily increased over the past several years. The average monthly rent is nearly $1,900 in San Diego County, according to recent reports.

In addition, a study from USC reveals the average monthly rents are expected increase by $209 in San Diego County by 2020.

“The amount of people on the verge of losing their housing is greater than we’ve seen in the past,” Anglea said. “It makes sense, logically when you think about it, the cost of housing is increasing. It’s 10, 15 and in some cases 20 percent. When you look at rental prices, it doesn’t happen incrementally across the region.”

Compounding the issue, he said, is wages for low-income individuals are not increasing at the same rate, thus one of the reasons many are on the verge of losing their home.

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