On The Air with Drew Schlosberg for U-T Community Spotlight – “Impact of Senior Community Centers”

April 9, 2013

A few weeks ago, I shared my radio interview with Drew Schlosberg, host of U-T Community Spotlight covering  “Seniors and Technology.”  We also talked about the wide array of services that are available through Senior Community Centers and the role we play in our community.


(Click the “On Air” picture to listen to the interview.)

Minute-by-Minute Highlights:

Minute 1:00 – Importance of keeping seniors healthy and independent

Minute 2:02 – Collaborative partnerships save SCC over $1MM

Minute 4:28 – Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center utilization

Minute 5:19 – Homeless Prevention, homelessness trends

Minute 7.47 – Senior Nutrition Program and reasons for hunger

Minute 9.57 – Older Americans Act and what it pays for

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Ruling on Redevelopment Jeopardizes Successful Programs

January 5, 2012

One of Senior Community Centers’ programs that I am most proud of is our Transitional Housing Program (THP) for homeless seniors.  It utilizes a “housing first” model which means we transition seniors directly from the streets into a safe housing situation with intensive case management.   We house 35 seniors in a downtown single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel and we have two assisted living units for seniors too frail — mentally and/or physically – to live on their own even with support.

But to truly understand what it means to be a senior and homeless requires the story of real people.  A few months ago I met a delightful couple named Bill and Sonia who recently celebrated more than 50 years of marriage.  Sonia at 84 is a beautiful woman with a “dancer’s body” that she honed as a fabled Radio City Music Hall Rockette in her youth.  91-year-old Bill still has a robust physique earned from decades as a general contractor.

But outward appearances can be deceiving.   Bill and Sonia had been homeless three months the day I met them.

They hadn’t had a real meal in two weeks, surviving on crackers and candy bars while sleeping in their car, which Bill moved frequently to avoid being rousted by the police.   A Senior Community Centers’ social worker discovered them earlier that morning while participating in a count of homeless in downtown San Diego.  A fire had destroyed their apartment leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their back and a car.

The lack of proper food had worsened Sonia’s dementia, leaving her confused and very weak.  Our kitchen immediately prepared two hot meals with extra portions that were devoured with an intensity magnified by starvation.  Bill, tears streaming down his face, hugged me and said, “I’m supposed to take care of Sonia and I couldn’t even feed her. Thank you.”

Something you should know about this vital program is that the housing units are funded through Redevelopment funds provided via the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC).  You may have seen the news reports about the California Supreme Court decision that eliminates Redevelopment Agencies like CCDC and the funding for programs like THP. 

This ruling, absent some serious intervention from the City of San Diego, could very well be the death knell for this highly successful program.  Senior Community Centers is preparing to battle with every ounce of our wits, abilities and muscle to ensure that this program doesn’t go away.  Please check back in this space periodically to see how you can help in this effort.

Project Homeless Connect

December 22, 2011

Project Homeless Connect is on January 11, 2012. I admire all the hard work and effort that goes into coordinating this one-day fair. Volunteers, organizations and the City of San Diego join together led by San Diego Housing Commission to provide much-needed assistance to those living on our streets. Melizza Esperanza, one of our case managers within the Transitional Housing Program, tells more.

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