Helping Neighbors Home
by Hart DuBois
San Diego has one of the largest populations of men, women and children who are homeless nationwide. There are more than 8,000 people who have no place to call home on any given night and 55 percent of those who are homeless are unsheltered. One of the primary reasons many of our neighbors are being pushed to life on the streets is the lack of affordable housing options. San Diego County’s lowest-income renters spend 69 percent of income on rent with very little funds leftover for food, medical care and other living essentials. Not only is monthly rent expensive, units with low rents are extremely difficult to find. With one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, only 1.5 percent of apartments in San Diego cost $1,200 to $1,299 a month. As one of San Diego’s largest homeless services providers, Father Joe’s Villages is working to combat the housing crisis and help those living on the streets find their way home.
For nearly 70 years, Father Joe’s Villages has been taking care of the immediate needs of individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness in our community, while also helping them end their homelessness for good. In the last 10 years alone, Father Joe’s Villages has found permanent housing for more than 11,000 of our neighbors in need. Neighbors like Mark, a Marine veteran who was forced to live on the streets after a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and a stroke left him drowning in medical bills and he could no longer afford rent. After months of homelessness, Mark moved into the Bishop Maher Center, one of Father Joe’s Villages’ transitional housing facilities for single men and began receiving care from their Veteran’s team. Through comprehensive services and support from case management, Mark gained tools for securing benefits, learning financial responsibility and received help managing his illness. Best of all, Mark’s case manager helped him secure a home of his own. Mark remembers the moment of walking into his new home:
“When they opened the door, I fell to my knees crying. I was so incredibly overwhelmed. The path of faith sometimes gets trying. You sit there wondering ‘How long?’ ‘How much more?’ and then finally walking into my new home… It was indescribable.”
On August 3, 2019, you can contribute to the success of people like Mark by participating in Father Joe’s Villages 3rd Annual A Short Walk Home at Spanish Landing Park. A Short Walk Home allows participants to raise funds through peer networking. Register yourself or your team at www.fjvwalkhome.com and create your own personal fundraising page. Father Joe’s Villages makes it easy to reach out to your friends, family and social network. There will be prizes based on how much you raise – from t-shirts to a “Team Tent” at the walk. All proceeds raised from this 2-mile charity walk benefit Father Joe’s Villages efforts to provide supportive and affordable housing programs.
As a community, we can show San Diego our commitment to supporting our neighbors’ path to hope and self-sufficiency. Together, we can prevent and end homelessness one life at a time.