What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?
Our core mission is to prevent child abuse, so Home Start focuses on the unique needs of pregnant/parenting young mothers & their children facing homelessness. We try to help them break the cycle of homelessness, poverty, abuse & neglect.
Our Maternity Housing Program (MHP) is the first in San Diego to address homelessness specifically for pregnant or parenting young mothers and their children. We offer specialized affordable housing & wraparound services in an urban region that suffers from an extreme lack of housing for low-income individuals/families.
MHP currently serves more than 50 young women and their 60+ children, providing them with case-managed transitional living support services. Clients receive healthy-parenting education, counseling, health education, substance abuse prevention, job training resources, independent living skills, & healthy-relationship training.
What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?
First, it isn’t true that most experiencing homelessness are men with mental illness and drug/alcohol problems. There are many cases of the “hidden homeless:” mothers sleeping in cars at night with one eye open, trying to protect their children; pregnant young women couch-surfing after exiting the foster care system; those trying to exit ongoing domestic violence.
Second, homelessness is not a cycle that inevitably continues from one generation to the next. Our wraparound programs for pregnant/parenting young women and their children demonstrate the cycle can be broken.
When was the organization founded?
It was founded in 1972. And here's what our founder wrote shortly afterwards: “Home Start has been providing San Diego’s low-income families with precisely the kind of comprehensive family support services now receiving national recognition as crucial factors in avoiding problems of delinquency, child abuse, and a wide variety of developmental disorders which invariably result in tragic and expensive social problems….”
This sentence appeared after federal funding had ended, however, and Project Home Start had to close its doors or secure new revenue. Realizing that this home-based program was meeting a tremendous need, staff & several involved parents formed a Board of Directors, incorporated, and celebrated the birth of Home Start, Inc.
You are part of the "prevention" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?
Our mission of preventing child abuse and neglect goes hand in hand with preventing and ending homelessness. While some programs not be considered traditional "prevention", others like rental assistance clearly prevent homelessness. Home Start operates a variety of housing / homelessness prevention programs which include:
- Maternity Housing (transitional housing and permanent supportive housing)
- Domestic Violence Housing and support services
- Emergency Hotel/Motel Vouchers
- Bridge Housing (short-term bridge housing and wraparound services for single, pregnant, and parenting young females)
- Host Housing: temporary housing placements in community members homes for individuals experiencing homelessness between the ages of 14-24 years old
- Rapid Rehousing
- El Cajon and Santee: rental assistance for residents that have been impacted financially/medically by COVID-19.
- Homeless Outreach: Meets/engages individuals experiencing homelessness. Services provided include Lucky Duck Foundation-funded food distribution, housing referrals, hygiene items, food, and blankets. Connecting clients to stable housing is the overarching goal.
Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?
We seek a Board Member who is a CPA or has a strong accounting background, and a Board Member with strong retail experience to offer guidance on our social enterprises. Additionally, we welcome volunteers to serve on our 50th Anniversary Planning Committee, or Events Planning Committee (Hallo-Wine in October and our 50th Anniversary Blue Ribbon Gala in May 2022), our Finance Committee, our Social Enterprises Committee, and our Personnel Committee. To learn more about Board Membership or joining a committee, please contact Laura Tancredi-Baese, Home Start CEO, at [email protected]
We are also in need of hygiene products, diapers, and back to school supplies for low-income children/families - please see our Amazon wish list for school supplies.
Lastly, our Thrift Boutique seeks regular donations of gently used furniture, clothing, and household items. https://home-start.org/home-start-thrift-boutique-store/
giv4 provides general operating support through this grant. (Why? Learn more). However, if this funding would be useful for homelessness prevention, how would it be used?
Funds through this grant, as with all gifts designated to general operating support, are crucial to helping us fill in the funding gaps for our programs and services when government contracts stay flat and do not fully cover costs that increase annually.
In particular, our Maternity Housing Program’s permanent supporting housing units need private dollars to be able to provide essential resources to our families. These include furniture, household products, hygiene items, maintenance repairs, and transportation needs.
Home Start has also been providing significant rental and utilities assistance these past 15 months (more than $2.7 million) to keep local families and individuals in crisis housed and stable after suffering job loss from COVID-19 and other traumas. Our government funding for rental assistance regularly runs out and so we supplement those rent costs and program expenses to prevent homelessness with private donations.
What else would you want people to know about your organization?
According to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless 2020 Point In Time Count Results, there were 323 unsheltered unaccompanied homeless youth. Alarmingly, the 2020 Youth Count also revealed “46 homeless parenting youth households ages 18-24. In those households there are 67 children. 45 of those parents are female and 15 of them are Black/African American.”
Since those counts took place before COVID-19, the current number of youth - especially mothers - facing homelessness is now higher.
To meet this demand, Home Start purchased a 5-unit property in November 2019 in Normal Heights near our other 3 Maternity Housing Program locations and office.
We have raised $879,000 from donors, foundations & governmental partners for this property purchase and renovation project, and used $300,000 from our strategic investments fund. We seek additional funding from caring partners to complete remaining renovation projects to make the units move-in ready. Contact Laura Tancredi-Baese, CEO, for more details.