Safe Haven Part of County-City Community Harm Reduction Team Partnership 209 Unsheltered People with Chronic Substance Use Conditions Helped Already

SAN DIEGO (DECEMBER 15, 2022) – A new Community Harm Reduction ‘Safe Haven’ will be able to serve up-to 22 unsheltered residents living with chronic substance use conditions when it opens by early January. The Safe Haven will be operated by Episcopal Community Services (ECS) and is one component of a partnership that Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Mayor Todd Gloria established between the County and City in June 2021.

“Every person living on the streets in San Diego County is not going through the same situation. Different types of solutions are needed and this program is one of them,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “The Community Harm Reduction Teams, Shelter and now this Safe Haven are important tools to support unsheltered residents, overcome their reliance on substances and get them connected to permanent housing. I appreciate Mayor Gloria, the City and all of our partners for helping us to make this program possible.”

Last December, the City and County opened the 44-bed Midway C-HRT Shelter in a former Pier One store. Since inception of the C-HRT program, 209 clients (as of Dec. 11 and duplicative) have received care. The new Safe Haven will increase the overall capacity of the C-HRT program and the supportive housing component will assist with the transition from homeless and/or shelter to permanent housing.

“This Safe Haven is the next positive step in the City-County partnership to address homelessness with bold and meaningful action. Addiction and mental illness are blocking the path forward for many of our unsheltered residents, and this healthcare-focused shelter will help clear the way for folks who raise their hand and ask for assistance. Thank you to Chair Fletcher and the County, Episcopal Community Services, Veterans Village of San Diego and everyone who made this facility possible.”

With this partnership, the City of San Diego covers the costs to use the facility, which is located on the campus of Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) and the County of San Diego covers the costs to operate the location, which is being done by Episcopal Community Services (ECS). ECS has managed a proven Safe Haven model for more than 25 years, this will be ECS’s second Safe Haven facility in operation. ECS currently operates a Safe Haven in Bankers Hill, San Diego.

“ECS is committed to providing a warm and welcoming environment for our clients as they receive the care and support they need to recover and achieve independence. Our team of multidisciplinary experts deliver evidence-based care with compassion and empathy, drawing on lived and professional experience,” said Elizabeth Fitzsimons, CEO, Episcopal Community Services. “We proudly offer this essential service to our community, and we look forward to working with clients to help them on their journey to wellness.”

How the Safe Haven Works

●  C-HRT Safe Haven – 11 units/22 beds dedicated to C-HRT clients placed by FHCSD for transitional housing support prior to exiting to permanent housing

  • Prospective clients are referred by C-HRT, which is a service provided by Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) for Safe Haven placement upon screening and evaluation.
  • FHCSD provides ongoing Care Coordination, case management and support services as needed either in person or virtually
  • FHCSD works with ECS on site to provide Care Coordination
  • VVSD supports with food for Safe Haven residents and other building needsunder the lease agreement
  • Staff coverage through shift schedules, 24 hours/7 days per week, with the planof having 2 staff per shift
  • Designated entrance for clients and staff, separate from the treatment programson campus
  • Common area for socialization, with semi-private bedrooms
  • Enhance client’s ability to live independently through improved hygiene,development of social relationships and acquiring activities of daily living skills
  • Oversight of all facility related issues, coordinating with VVSD as needed
  • ECS Operation of the C-HRT Safe Haven 24/7“The partnership between the County and City is critical to advance the ultimate goal of helping people who are experiencing homelessness by providing health and housing. It’s as simple as that,” said Dr. Piedad Garcia, Deputy Director with the County’s Behavioral Health Services.