July 9 at 8:10am

Interfaith set to suspend operations of sobering mat program in Escondido on July 15

On July 15, Interfaith Community Services will suspend operations of its sobering mat program in Escondido, closing the only such program in North San Diego County and bringing to an end a partnership with the City of Escondido that has existed for 16 years.

“This has been a wonderful partnership, making it possible to establish and operate the program for 16 years,” said Craig Jones, Associate Director at Interfaith. “We’re grateful to the City of Escondido for helping to support this program for so long.”

Interfaith’s Escondido Community Sobering and Stabilization (ECSS) operates a 10-person capacity sobering program where inebriated adults can ‘sleep it off’ for up to 23 hours. The program has long operated to give Escondido Police a quicker and cost-free alternative to dropping off inebriates at local hospitals or the County Jail facility in Vista.

As an additional benefit, the sobering program functioned as an effective outreach to recruit individuals into its transitional, 34-bed residential addiction recovery program operated by Interfaith at the same location.

“This has been an effective means of helping people enter recovery,” stated Patti Hamic-Christensen, ECSS manager, adding, “Without it, these individuals are likely to remain on the street, or end up in more expensive facilities for the public, like the hospital or in jail.”

The program has operated for 16 years in a City-owned building, nearly rent-free – an arrangement that recognized the benefit of the program to the community.

Interfaith Community Services was first notified three years ago of the City’s intent to redevelop the footprint of land on which ECSS sits. Interfaith has struggled to find an appropriate facility to move to, and just last month a potential deal on a property being purchased on Interfaith’s behalf by Tri-City Hospital fell apart before the deadline to vacate could be met.

Interfaith will continue to operate the residential recovery program, relocating it by August 15th to one of their existing residential properties elsewhere in Escondido. However, there is not enough space – or proper zoning – to relocate the sobering mat service.

Jones added, “We believe strongly in this particular service. We continue to work with Tri-City Medical Center to find a new location and we will continue to search for new partners and funding that will enable us to re-establish the program in a way that serves the needs of all of North County.”