Local Non-Profits Team Up to Aid Homeless Residents
April 14, 2017
Because the weather is nice all year in San Diego, there is a large homeless population. It is easier to live outside here than other places. In addition to that, rent is very high and many people live paycheck to paycheck. All of this leads not only to street people who come here from someplace else, but also struggling homeless families who live out of their cars. However, two organizations, Dreams for Change and Jewish Family Service, have paired up to help our region’s homeless.
Dreams for Change began in May 2009 to support homeless and low-income people not being served by traditional homeless-service providers and government programs. They advocate an action plan that places emphasis on finding permanent housing, employment, training, and emergency support. They also started the Safe Parking Program for homeless people [which include the working homeless] who live out of their cars, so they would have a safe place to park at night.
Next year will be the Jewish Family Service 100th anniversary. Jewish Family Service, which aims to to build a stronger, healthier, and more resilient San Diego, has been serving the community through various programs that strive to help others by empowering individuals and families, sponsoring and supporting refugees, and fostering community connection and engagement. In October 2016, Dreams for Change approached Jewish Family Service and asked if they could use their parking lot after hours, and an innovative and effective partnership was born.
This program operates from 6 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is contained in the fenced parking lot of JFS between the buildings and provides 40 parking spaces for between 20 and 30 cars and around 40 people, including individuals and families. Dreams For Change carefully screens vehicles and drivers before sending them to Jewish Family Service.
The program is self-contained and operates almost completely outdoors, with the exception of case management sessions that Dreams For Change now conducts inside in rooms that Jewish Family Service provides. Since October, this partnership has grown, including engaging staff and volunteers to host dinners on both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays along with a few other evening dinners.
In addition, Jewish Family Service is now providing food from the their corner market. This market receives its food from many organizations, including Feeding San Diego, and recently Starbucks joined in after the employees there complained about wasting food. JFS has also brought in portable toilets, a sink, and given access to an indoor shower.
Finally, this partnership, which also includes job coaching and employment services, has resulted in several individuals gaining employment, as well as financial assistance to help clients with clothing for job interviews, security deposits for homes along with other items related to self-sufficiency and becoming housed.
Both Jewish Family Service and Dreams For Change will continue to work and grow together in their common goal of helping families and individuals as they move forward to greater self-sufficiency and finding stable housing, employment and a better life.