SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The first year-round homeless shelter in North County San Diego is set to open Wednesday. It's part of a plan to expand emergency shelters beyond cold-weather months.
Operation Hope in Vista was at capacity when it opened its emergency shelter last month. It and other shelters plan to stay open passed March, but they desperately need the space, money and volunteers to do so.
“Nobody plans to be in the situation that I am in," said Eric Hiller.
Hiller says he never wanted to come to Interfaith Community Services in Escondido for help, but after losing his job, his mother and his marriage, he says he was left with no choice.
"When your self-esteem is down there in the gutter, it's really hard to go ahead and pick yourself back up," said Hiller.
Eric was only able to secure a bed from December through March. Currently, these are the only months emergency shelters are able to provide beds to the homeless.
"When it comes to shelter, there are finite resources and we deal with the reality of having more people on the streets than we have shelter beds available," said Greg Anglea, Executive Director of Interfaith Community Services.
For the first time, the shelter will be open year round for forty-nine men and women.
"Not everybody out there who is homeless has no future, no life. They do, they just need a little help," said Hiller.
Construction is currently underway in order to prepare the space and get rooms ready for the homeless. At Operation Hope in Vista, the demand for shelter is very high.
"It doesn't matter how nice it is outside, you don’t want to live in a car with your kid," said Kathleen Higgins, Executive Director of Operation Hope in Vista.
The forty-five beds available struggle to meet the demand for the one-hundred families on the Operation Hope waiting list.
"The reality is that even when we go year round, there will never be enough beds to meet the demand," said Higgins.
Interfaith is just $70,000 shy of its $500,000 goal to fund the year round shelter. Operation Hope needs to triple their budget, add staff and add an additional floor to their building to meet their demands.
If you would like to volunteer or support the shelters in North County, visit these websites for more information.
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