Assistance from Interfaith Community Services.

Residents of San Diego can stop in at Interfaith Community Services, and the non-profit operates both a walk in service and can help over the phone. They are involved in administering a number of Emergency Support Services in the county, with an emphasis on housing and food. However, other resources such as Senior Connections or Family Self-Sufficiency are also widely available.

The Social Services Department from ICS is a place to get information on the various Emergency Support Services. This is available at the Escondido as well as Oceanside offices. Volunteer intake workers and full time staff take the applicant's information, and based on the results they provide assessments, referrals, and basic needs to anyone requesting assistance, regardless of the situation or income level.

Programs may provide clients with free non-perishable food items; assistance with identification cards, gasoline vouchers or bus passes for job interviews and doctor’s appointments; prescription vouchers, and birth certificates. Limited financial aid or loans can help with past-due utility bills or rent, however this is limited. Case managers need to authorize this form of help.

Emergency food assistance or groceries are available at Coastal Service Center in Oceanside as well as Betty and Melvin Cohn Center in Escondido. Participants in Interfaith’s Family and Social Services and Shelter and Housing Programs (referenced below) have access to more frequent support from the pantry.

Other food programs are run too. Free, hot breakfasts are served at the Inland Service Center in Escondido. This service relies on a dedicated group of volunteers from local schools, churches, and service clubs, and they help homeless and low income residents of the greater San Diego area. The meal is healthy and filling, and some say it is similar to a dinner. In addition, each homeless person is given a sack lunch.

A mobile food pantry or truck is run by Interfaith Senior Connections. The non-profit operates a mobile center with seniors with easily accessible lunches, plus activities that promote wellness or socialization. The truck serves as a mobile resource center for residents, regardless of their income. By providing seniors with free nutritious meals, and bringing them together Interfaith Community Services provides a convenient, holistic service to participants.

Basic needs for the homeless include the use of Shower & Laundry Facilities. There is also a free Mail, Phone, Fax, Message and Copy Services, though it is limited. People can use the center for job seeking and other needs.




Emergency/Transitional Shelter Bed Program operates facilities in San Diego County. They include Corinne’s Cottage, the Men’s Shelter, and Tikkun Home, all of which provide supportive housing for homeless women and men with mental illness. In addition to the short term housing, shelter clients receive supportive services to help them gain the skills they need in order to be self-sufficient.

  • Tikkun Home is a short term, temporary shelter for homeless women with mental illness.  Case management and meals are served too.
  • Corinne’s Cottage is for seniors or older homeless women with mental illness.

Transitional Housing solutions offers apartments to house dozens of families that are working hard toward moving into permanent housing. Interfaith client advocates work closely with clients to provide individualized, as-needed support services and advice. It touches upon life skills training and vocational assistance, as well as counseling to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. In addition, the program links clients with partnering agencies that offer educational planning, financial literacy workshops and family therapy to prepare participants for a successful transition into a new, low income apartment.

Supportive housing for mentally ill is administered too, and this is part of first Fairweather Lodges, run by Interfaith Community Services. The center offers permanent shared housing and supported part-time employment for the disabled and mentally ill adults, with the goal of demonstrating that disabled individuals can live satisfying and productive lives. This innovative recovery model gives high-functioning mentally ill adults the power to live in interdependency. They will also work closely with mentors and guidance counselors.

The disabled can also benefit from Shelter Plus Care. This service provides case management and other resources to homeless disabled individuals and to homeless families with adult members who receive housing vouchers from County of San Diego Housing and Community Development.

Interfaith Community Services helps homeless veterans too. Assistance is for employment needs, nutrition, free food, low income housing, recovery after hospitalization, and wrap-around family support.

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) receives government funding too. The non-profit provides customized, intensive case management services to a diverse population in San Diego, including immigrants. This is a process that involves meetings between clients and case managers. With guidance from the team at ICS,  participants explore options for improving their quality of life, with a focus on employment concerns.





A plan will be created. Each is structured to find the best solutions, using appropriate community resources, as necessary, in order to attain the desired outcomes. The objective is usually employment, and the goal is to facilitate personal growth and development through partnership.

The main goal of Project CARE is to maintain the independence and well-being of seniors and disabled older adults in San Marcos and Vista. It will allow them to remain independent and living in their own homes for as long as possible. This is accomplished through the provision of a wide array of services that include friendly visits to homebound seniors, reassurance calls, and also Vials of Life emergency medical information packets. Through these activities, the program keeps track of the physical and mental health of registered adults, and they also get referrals to appropriate agencies in California.

Senior Supportive Housing operates housing complexes with the capacity to provide permanent solutions for adults with disabilities. These programs provide wrap-around supportive services to residents, and staff work closely with Interfaith’s Client Advocates and mental health professionals. This addresses both medical and housing needs.

Minor Home Repairs and Modifications involve area volunteers and business groups. They work together to assist in making safety updates or small repairs for qualified seniors. These modifications make the home safer for its occupants, as well as making it easier for caregivers to carry out their daily tasks and activities. Services include the the installation of grab bars and smoke detectors, repair of leaky faucets, damaged screen doors, and broken windows.

The Vocational Development programs support and promote clients in their efforts to prepare for, find, and retain stable employment in San Diego County. A number of those seeking assistance at Interfaith find that they need to address multiple barriers, including lack of education or training.

Employment services staff and vocational planners partner with a client to assess needs, employment goals are set and an individual plan. Follow-up from IHS includes regular meetings to work through the plan, while also receiving direction and encouragement necessary for success. The process touches upon Career Assessments, Interview Preparation, Employability Tests, Filing for Unemployment/CalJOBS, Job Search, Resume Preparation, and improving Computer Skills. There is also help in researching and locating options for education and training opportunities, scholarships, and grants.

Interfaith Computer Labs are open to clients. They are located in Inland and Coastal Service Centers for the purpose of researching employment opportunities, looking for work, creating a resume, and other activities related to finding employment. Volunteers are present in the labs on a limited basis to answer questions and give general direction or tips.




Tax advice and preparation is done at Interfaith Community Services Escondido office. The goal is to help people from having to pay high costs for tax services. The focus is on ensuring that taxpayers, including the working poor, have access to any tax credits for which they qualify. All volunteers are certified by the IRS to prepare tax returns and file, for free, eligible returns electronically.

Expert legal workers and attorneys are on call too. They are from the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc., and staff is available through the Interfaith Escondido office at no charge to low income residents. They can help residents resolve legal issues.

There are a few offices in the region. The main sites are as follows.

  • Inland Service Center is at 550 W. Washington Ave., Escondido, CA 92025, call 760-489-6380
  • The Coastal Service Center is located at 4700 North River Rd., Oceanside, CA 92057. Call 760-721-2117
  • Veterans Service Center. The location is 1617 Mission Ave., Oceanside, California 92058, telephone 760-529-9979.


By Jon McNamara

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