December 23 at 9:00am

Haven House fills quickly as homeless people seek to escape the cold

It didn’t take long for Haven House to fill up with homeless individuals seeking respite from cool outdoor temperatures.

The emergency winter shelter operating at the Escondido office of Interfaith Community Services reached its capacity of 40 just days after its Dec. 1 opening.

“We opened at 5:30 p.m. (on opening night) and everyone was processed by 6:15,” said Doug Ferris, who with his wife, Jan, manages the shelter, part of the Alliance for Regional Solutions’ winter shelter network.

Out of the 40 people staying nightly at the shelter the first week, 10 of them women, there were 17 clients returning from last year, Ferris said. Several people had to be turned away after the shelter capacity was reached. Those individuals are given sleeping bags as needed.

“Last year we had (Escondido Community Sobering and Stabilization Services) for the overflow,” said Ferris.  “There is just no more room.”

ECSS was suspended earlier this year, with residential substance-abuse treatment clients transferred to another ICS property.

Some of the people staying at the shelter this year were screened at Interfaith’s Homeless Connect event held in November, which helped to make the check-in process run more smoothly this year.

Many individuals, faith centers and other organizations have rallied to provide assistance for the shelter. The schedule for preparing meals for the 121 days the shelter will operate was filled before it opened, the first time that had happened. The biggest needs now, said Ferris, are for sleeping bags and white socks.