March 17, 2015
Today we were visited by Bernie Miles and Daundra Bembury from Episcopal Community Services (ECS) and heard about their “Friend to Friend” program aiding the homeless.
Although the program focuses on the homeless, it also welcomes those who struggle with addiction which often goes hand in hand with homelessness. Those in the program must have entered it voluntarily. The “Friend to Friend” program serves the needs of the mentally ill and addicted homeless adults in central San Diego. Members may be eligible to receive services in the area of income, housing, and mental health with the goal of regaining independence. A unique component of the “Friend to Friend” Program is street outreach.
They reach potential clients on the streets and visit other agencies to seek out existing or potential members to provide them with an array of social services and assistance intended to connect them with the services offered by the program. ECS operates a residential Safe Haven Program with a capacity for 28 adults designed to help clients stabilize and transition into affordable permanent housing. Of those in this program, 70% are able to successfully transition into permanent housing. The largest segment of the homeless population in San Diego consists of males in the 45 to 65 age bracket. About 60% of the homeless population have mental health problems.
The “Friend to Friend” offices are located at 2144 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92104, Tel: 619-955-8217, Fax: 619-955-5142. The ECS web site is www.ecscalifornia.org.