CARLSBAD — Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues in San Diego County.
And for Oceanside’s Nina Beebe, her journey into helping the cause came through helping a friend run The Brunswick and The Pines properties in San Diego.
After taking a position as property manager three years ago, one of the missions was to house homeless veterans. She began researching and connected with several entities in San Diego including Father Joe’s Villages, which is San Diego’s largest homeless service provider.
“When Father Joe’s came around, half our population in our apartments were homeless vets,” Beebe said. “The VA agencies knew we were able to help and wanting to help, so they put the word out and that’s how it got it out and we got more and more of them.”
Over the past three years, she added, her apartment complexes have assisted several hundred people. Free or low rent for several months is included through the partnerships and various programs for the transitional housing complex.
The program allows those vets and homeless individuals to get services, jobs, return to school and provides other means of becoming self-sufficient.
The apartments are furnished with cable TV and utilities included, Beebe said. At The Brunswick, the complex is a shared building, where there are common areas for cooking and restrooms.
“It building were built in the early 1900s,” she added. “They were for veterans coming home and it was group housing for veterans. That’s how it kind of started.”
As for the partnership with Father Joe’s, Beebe said the nonprofit will provide rental assistance for an extended period versus what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides. So, those funds can extend the stay for an individual who is struggling to meet rent.
Deacon Jim Vargos of Father Joe’s said the organization provides housing for about 2,100 individuals per night. But with the landlord program, Vargos said those relationships increase the number of available units to assist the homeless.
The program has been operating for several years, but one massive challenge is San Diego is tied for the lowest rental vacancy rate in the U.S. with Los Angeles at about 3.5 percent.
“As soon as a unit comes on the market, it’s scooped up,” Vargos said. “The average rent for one-bedroom apartment is about $1,800. The combination of those two is just toxic for our clientele.”
Over the past five years, Father Joe’s has put 5,600 people into affordable, permanent housing. He said those relationships with the landlords or property managers, such as Beebe, are critical to the success of tackling homelessness.
“They partner with us because it’s not a matter of us just placing people in their units … and that we just don’t walk away,” Vargos added.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.