December 2 at 4:18pm

Interfaith opens “Haven House”, an emergency winter shelter

Ribbon cutting

Homeless individuals in North County have a new haven from the cold this winter.

Haven House opened Saturday, Dec. 1, at Interfaith Community Services’ Escondido office. A full house of 40 men and women were sheltered on that opening night.

Haven House is one of four winter shelters that opened that night as part of a network operated by the Alliance for Regional Solutions, which embraces nine cities that came together in 2007 to figure out better ways to deal with issues such as homelessness.

The new shelter opened in the section of the ICS-owned building previously occupied by Meza Automotive Paint. Volunteers and staff members refurbished bunk beds obtained from Donovan State Prison, cleaning, sanitizing and painting over graffiti on the beds, as well as aiding in the conversion of the former auto businesses to a welcoming environment.

About 40 people turned out Nov. 29 for the dedication of the new shelter. It replaces space leased from the Salvation Army in Escondido in recent years.

“They ran it for many years and did an excellent job. The problem was finding space,” said Rick Batt, ICS executive director. “This will provide a stable home for the shelter until such time that we establish a permanent year-round shelter in this region.”

Interfaith CEO Rick Batt speaking with Escondido Mayor Sam Abed

Homelessness is not just a winter problem, Batt continued. It affects men, women and families with children and pets year-round.

“We’ll work with local clergy and cities to take homeless people off the street and into stable employment and living situations,” Batt added. “This is just one step toward establishing a stronger resource network for the homeless.”

The shelter provides 10 beds for women and 30 for men. Each bed is covered with a handmade quilt created by members of the Church

of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A locker at the end of each bed holds toiletries, towels and socks and offers space for the users to store their belongings.

Colorful murals decorate the shelter walls, painted by members of the Escondido Arts Partnership.

Shelter clients are served dinner and breakfast and provided with a sack lunch. They also receive case management, a wellness assessment and have access to tax and legal assistance and employment services through Interfaith.

“Our goal is not to run a free hotel at night for people in need,” said Batt. “Our goal is to help people get re-situated into real life.”

 The operation of the shelter requires heavy participation from volunteers and donors to meet the needs of the program. There are opportunities to get involved with helping prepare meals, gathering supplies, and working with the residents. The get involved, send us an email or call (760) 489-6380.


UPDATE: Nightly Meal Providers Needed!

Date(s): Multiple Dates, January-March (Call for specific dates)

Time: 6:30 pm – Set Up; 7:00 pm – Serving Meal

Place: Interfaith Community Services, 550 West Washington Avenue, Escondido

Contact: Jan Ferris, or 760.801.0420 to reserve the date that you would like to prepare and serve the meal.

Details: There are an abundance of dates where meals are needed. We ask that the volunteers prepare and bring meals that are balanced, including protein and vegetables.  Each meal should be enough for at least 60 people.

Examples:  Past meals have included burrito bars, pasta and salad, chili, and casseroles, but the options are almost unlimited!  Getting various people to bring different parts of a meal or making smaller portions of the same recipe is a great way to get several people involved!  Please ask for more ideas and suggestions!

If you or your group is not able to prepare a meal but is interested in providing a monetary donation towards this effort, Interfaith is able to provide a meal for as little $100.