CARLSBAD — In a fortunate coincidence, two nonprofit organizations are lending their time and money to help address the city’s homeless situation.
The Hi-Noon Rotary Club and the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation will combine to grant more than $100,000 to front-line nonprofits to fund programs assisting homeless people.
In addition, other organizations such as Interfaith Community Services, Solutions for Change in Vista, the Community Resource Center in Encinitas and the McAllister Institute in El Cajon are working to provide services for individuals seeking housing, financial assistance, substance abuse and other basic needs.
According to the 2017 Point-In-Time Count by San Diego County, Carlsbad has 160 homeless people, although the number is fluid because of the transient lifestyle. There are more than 9,000 homeless in the county.
Both Rotary and the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation happened to select homelessness as a focus this year before the city of Carlsbad announced its Homeless Response Plan, which the City Council adopted in October 2017.
Julie Baker, director of Community Services for rotary, and Carlsbad Charitable Foundation President Catherine Magãna, said the homeless issue is in the forefront of the consciousness of residents. This, too, was before a massive hepatitis A outbreak last fall and winter resulted in 20 deaths, 586 cases with 401 hospitalizations. Only three cases were reported in Carlsbad.
“Homelessness has been on the forefront,” Baker said. “The citizens have been noticing more and more homeless people. One of the things was for the city to reach out to NGOs and nonprofits to see if we can get together and create a force for helping solve or alleviate or diminish the homeless problem in Carlsbad and surrounding communities.”
Baker said more residents have begun to take notice of the issue. Her club is donating funds from its popular Brewfest and Oktoberfest. But, it, like the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, has also met with other nonprofits and city officials to discuss the situation at length.
Another challenge, she said, is helping the homeless without contributing to them staying on the streets. Carlsbad police Sgt. Bryan Hagrett said a minority of the homeless population will not seek housing and see being homeless, which is not illegal, as their lifestyle.
But it’s the other population battling substance abuse, financial difficulties or other circumstances who want and seek out assistance.
“It’s really tricky to figure out how to get them off the streets and into housing and help them rather than just contributing to their ability to stay on the streets,” Baker added.
The Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, which is an affiliate of the San Diego Foundation, voted to tackle the issue for the 2017-18 cycle, Magãna said. In summer 2016, the all-volunteer group spent hours researching and meeting with officials like Carlsbad City Manager Kevin Crawford. Last year, the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation met with Carlsbad Community Services Manager Marie Jones-Kirk and other nonprofits about the issue.
In addition, Mayor Matt Hall also spoke to the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation and prospective members at a Feb. 22 event, detailing the city’s efforts with the homeless issue.
“We were trying to figure out how we can all come together,” Magãna said. “We are trying to provide that awareness. We felt this year this was a need. We have a heart for giving back and seeing what the community needs.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.