For I Was ....

In San Diego, the homelessness crisis is growing at an alarming rate. For every 10 people who find housing, 16 more become homeless. Black San Diegans, although only 5% of the population, account for 28% of the homeless, highlighting severe racial disparities. Living on the streets has become increasingly deadly, with higher death rates than a decade ago. Mental illness affects 40% of the homeless population, compounded by a severe lack of access to essential medications and therapies. Substance abuse, linked to 80% of crimes leading to incarceration, further entraps individuals in a cycle of poverty and jail. Despite misconceptions that simply finding work or housing can solve the problem, the reality is more complex. The most frequent calls to 211 are about shelter and homelessness, and our client database has grown to 600 people, reflecting the urgent need for more shelter spaces.

The Church of Salvation's Homeless Outreach program, the only Black-led initiative in San Diego County, is designed to serve this vulnerable population with a compassionate and structured approach, embodying our mission to guide every soul toward transformation. We start by mobilizing volunteers and community members to provide food and water to those living on the streets, fostering a sense of community support. During these initial interactions, we conduct thorough intakes to understand each individual's unique situation. From there, we guide them to shelters or day centers for ongoing support and updates. Ultimately, our goal is to connect them with housing providers, ensuring they have a stable place to live. Over the past two years, we've successfully housed over 100 individuals, with  over 70% retention rate. This demonstrates our method's effectiveness, not only in removing people from the streets but also in helping them maintain stable housing. Our outreach is a testament to living out God's teachings, providing a beacon of hope and a place of belonging, and ensuring that faith manifests in deeds that resonate across the city.