This month, April (13th to be precise) is the one year anniversary of Irvine for Everyone (I4E). I4E ran the Homelessness Demystified and #BuffetOfEducationalExperiences campaigns from Feb 2 to May 4 partnered with faith and civic communities, non profit providers of homeless services and housing, to offer 7 different categories of learning experiences. Since people learn in different ways, the hope was that people would select a few experiences to engage and learn, over the next three months before choosing a solution, strategic direction or action to invest in individually and collectively for helping to end homelessness. So there were events and experiences to empower learning by touring different kinds of homeless housing, volunteering career development services in an emergency shelter, advocating, connecting, transforming knowledge into action, and more. The Friendship Shelter Housing Experience, April 26th, was the last one before our Spring Gathering when we will come together to meet the leaders who’ve emerged, share lessons learned and next steps.
Friendship Shelter is a non profit that runs three different kinds of homeless housing in South OC: A low barrier emergency shelter, the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) on Laguna Canyon, a Bridge Shelter on Pacific Coast Highway discreet and unlabeled in the city, and permanent supportive housing in Dana Point. The Bridge Shelter in Laguna Beach has been in existence for 30 years. A former hotel/motel was converted into a shelter for ~ 30 residents; it provides dignified, and relatively private accommodations where residents share a room and have a heavy duty storage unit with lock. There’s a small library (used more like a game room), fabulous ocean views from the common kitchen, conference room, a small meeting room, a computer room, and a couple of patios. There’s staff office rooms for those who work there and also for a live-in, managing the Bridge Shelter program and providing services to clients. This is an enrollment program and clients are provided with everything they need, guaranteed 30 days stay minimum, often extended to many months as needed, and case managers work to get them into housing. This program/shelter is for anybody in the OC, not just Laguna Beach residents. The selection criteria tends to favor the most vulnerable and chronically homeless and unaccompanied adults (no couples or families). The Bridge Shelter is unlike the ASL which is for Laguna Beach residents first, and then, if there’s space for others. Also, the Bridge Shelter is much smaller; only 30 whereas ASL can sleep 50. The Bridge Shelter is also utilizing trauma-informed care and it was recently remodeled.
I’ll write more about the Friendship Shelter Housing Experience as time permits. I wanted to get this one out as it’s the kind of discreet and dignified emergency shelter model that Irvine for Everyone has always envisioned as possible and feasible for Irvine residents to support and build. Too bad that no Irvine resident, besides me, was able to come and learn with us!