A Life Turned Around


On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services invited Housing Case Manager Tierra Bowen alongside her client to discuss her journey from the streets to stability.

Brie recently attended the National Alliance of Ending Homelessness Conference and won a highly competitive scholarship due to her amazing rehabilitation story. She has come a long way since being a resident at Interfaith.

Eviction, debt, and a criminal record with multiple violations are just a few of the barriers Brie had to overcome in order to be where she is now. After 6 months of looking for housing without any luck, Brie was living in a safe house with her 5 year old daughter. She was unable to find housing due to being rejected by landlords because of her background.

Interfaith owns 80 apartments on 1 block of Escondido. They are used to help stabilize people and support reunified families who find themselves in a similar situation as Brie. Through this, Interfaith was able to provide Brie with 18 months of stability.

The beginning of Brie’s story began when she was 14 years old, the age she became aware that she suffered from depression. At 16 years old, Brie made her first suicide attempt and has since been hospitalized over 20 times throughout her life. She also found herself in between long term and short term facilities to receive care.

Brie is now 41 and has not been hospitalized for over 4 years. She shared that she had endured a lot of trauma from the domestic violence that lead to her divorce. This is when she had begun using methamphetamine to cope.

Brie blames her drug abuse as a secondary illness and her mental health was the first problem. She tried many different types of medications and avenues of therapy, but she felt that drugs supplied her with a unique ability to cope in the moment. Once her addiction got out of control, Brie lost everything; her home, children, and from there, she ended up on the street.

Anglea wanted to address the common misconceptions that surround addiction in order to promote a deeper awareness toward people experiencing homelessness. He asked, “Why can’t you just stop?” regarding her drug abuse problem.

“There are many reasons. Say you have depression that is debilitating and you wake up on the sidewalk because now you are homeless, and your child has been taken from you, you have nowhere to go, no money in your pocket, and your belly is hungry, and a guy next to you pulls out a pipe and says hey, you want some of this? That [drug] is your friend, the only friend you have. Above and beyond that, it’s a coping mechanism. So it’s going to take the pain I feel emotionally and physically away. I’m going to be able to go through the motions of that day until the sun goes down and it’s dark and I can go to sleep.”

Brie was able to get clean, address some of the mental health issues she had struggled with, and eventually was approved by the courts to reunite with her daughter. But she needed a great deal of support in order to accomplish all that she has.

She utilized what’s known as “Harm reduction therapy” for an illness in a mental health situation where addiction it’s a co-occurring disorder. They work on getting your mental health stabilized and treat you while intoxicated. She couldn’t get clean or off of drugs because she wasn’t finding the right help.

Harm reduction does not require sobriety to treat mental health issues. UCSD allowed her to walk into the program without strict expectations, and was accepted with open arms. She felt loved, encouraged, and lifted up until her spirit was strong enough to feel ready to quit.

“I have a lot of trauma and I haven’t had a permanent home in 10 years. I lost my family, my children, and all of my friends. So the social workers that I had, the case workers that I had, the doctors that I had, the professionals that I had, were the reason that I was able to do it. They encouraged me, they supported me, they pushed me, and they loved me. They came in my darkest moments and rebuilt me.”

She expressed gratitude for people like Tierra Bowen who held her accountable throughout her journey to stabilization and rehabilitation. They asked questions regarding her visitation with doctors, gave her regular goals, and helped pull her through by not giving up on her.

Throughout the show, they discussed the complex processes involved from the start to finish process of rehabilitation. Bowen shared that it’s not just about getting a housing voucher, but the support system and other community partners to help create stability for families. This is evident in Brie’s story.

Brie has renewed her bond with her mother and son, her record is expunged, and she is two classes away from getting her A.A. degree in sociology. She is nearly 4 years sober and therapy professionals deemed that her mental health symptoms are in remission. Currently, Brie is living in permanent housing. She also volunteers and works with parents experiencing homelessness that are trying to reunite with their children.

Brie’s resilience, strength, and appreciation for all of the people involved throughout her self-improvement journey makes her truly inspirational. Anglea said he looks forward to working with Brie in the future as a colleague; Brie has aspirations to be a social worker and give back to the community once she earns her Master’s degree.

Calls to Action:

  • If a list Pay equitable wages for the work that’s being done.

  • Continue to donate. Even the smallest donation can have a large impact.

  • Check out the Adopt a Family Program during the holidays. Brie discussed how her family”adopter” gave her a basket of cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and other home necessities. The family also bought her daughter clothes and a bicycle. She said it felt like heaven to receive so many gifts.

  • Make donations to the food pantry year round.

  • If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse, check out the Harm Reduction Therapy at UCSD. While some organizations only help people when they stop using drugs, they understand that it is not that easy. They provide a safe place to receive therapy and will listen to people even while they are intoxicated. The program allows you to get strong enough to stop the addiction through their treatment plans.

All It Takes Is One Person to Care

Gary Warth, San Diego Union Tribune

Gary Warth, San Diego Union Tribune

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services is joined by Gary Warth of the San Diego Union Tribune. Warth shares his unique perspective about the stories and issues surrounding homelessness. The purpose of their discussion was to share insight into the realities some people face while experiencing homelessness as well as help listeners be more educated and informed about what’s taking place in our communities.

One of Warth’s goals as a journalist investigating a story is to understand what homeless people need rather than allowing committee members to make decisions for them. For example, he spoke with a woman in her mid-60s. She has a five page resume and wants to work, but fears not being able to find a job because she cannot access a shower and does not have clean clothes. Another man said he waits in line at 4am to use a public shower with a hundred other people and only half in line may get to use it.

Warth also gave insight into the daily lives of several homeless veterans and their success stories. He shared that homeless people are capable of changing their lives in major, incredible ways and shared inspirational stories about their journeys from the streets to stability and how they are now in a place to help others.

Another topic Warth and Anglea discussed was the impact that one person can have on another person’s life, especially by their outreach efforts. All it takes is one person to care about someone to motivate great changes.

This week’s podcast is a great way to understand the current issues surrounding homelessness within our San Diego community, gain more insights into their daily lives, inspire kindness, and to help listeners become more educated and informed.

Calls to Action:

  • If a listener has a story that’s worth sharing, reach out to Gary to learn more about available resources. Contact Gary at: gary.warth@sduniontribune.com | Phone: (760) 529-4939.

  • Read what Gary is writing to learn more about the stories he shares that are informative and eye-opening.

  • Get involved in agencies, make donations, and Gary recommends that people stay educated about the work going on in their community.

  • Reach out to Interfaith to see how you can help through donations to help end and prevent homelessness this year.

You Are Not A Lost Cause

Krysta Esquivel and David Baker

Krysta Esquivel and David Baker

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, is joined by Executive Director Krysta Esquivel and David Baker of YMCA Youth & Family Services (YFS). David shares his personal journey, coming from “a background of dysfunction,” and experiencing homelessness at a young age. “I would say I never really had a home,” said David, until he found YMCA YFS. Krysta discusses the goals of the organization around social responsibility and helping vulnerable youth and families. David is a living example of how the cycle can be broken; not only is he no longer homeless, but he is now an employee at YMCA YFS, helping those who are in the shoes he once was; and he wants all youth experiencing homelessness to know: you are not a lost cause.

Calls to Action:

Recuperative Care: A Way Out of Homelessness

Tracy and Max at Interfaith’s  Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center

Tracy and Max at Interfaith’s Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, is joined by Tracy, a Navy Veteran and graduate of Interfaith’s Recuperative Care Program located at our Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center. Tracy also introduces Max, his loyal companion and the first service dog to live at the Recuperative Care center (and to come on the podcast!), as well as his son, Caleb, who is inspired by and proud of his dad’s journey.

Tracy with his son, Caleb at his graduation.

Tracy with his son, Caleb at his graduation.

When Tracy first came to Interfaith, he was living in his car and struggling to treat his PTSD and schizophrenia. When he was offered a way out of homelessness through Recuperative Care, Tracy was skeptical of accepting the help. Tracy shares how grateful he is that he did and how Interfaith truly turned his life around.

Calls to Action:

Life is Meant For More

Reverend Meg Decker, Interfaith Board Chair

Reverend Meg Decker, Interfaith Board Chair

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, is joined by Reverend Meg Decker, Board Chair at Interfaith and leader of Trinity Episcopal Church in Escondido. As the ‘boss lady’ Rev. Meg discusses her experiences volunteering at Interfaith’s Haven House Shelter, sharing conversations with residents over their pancakes with sporks, and also speaks to her role as Board Chair, making tough decisions that directly impact those residents. Greg and Meg discuss how our neighbors experiencing homelessness truly have to fight back and the interesting conversation that results shows us that life is meant for more.

Calls to Action:

  • If you’re clergy, Interfaith needs more volunteer chaplains! Learn more at https://www.interfaithservices.org/volunteer/

  • Serve a meal at Interfaith’s Haven House Shelter. All of our dinners are made and served by volunteer groups and families! The current openings are listed here

  • Donate to Offering Hope in Housing. You can be the difference in ending someones homelessness. Click here to donate and select “Hope in Housing”

MythBuster Edition: Affordable Housing

On this special "mythbuster edition" episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, welcomes back Rebecca Louie from Wakeland, an affordable housing developer, and Bruce, a formerly homeless resident of Wakeland housing. Greg, Rebecca, and Bruce discuss the common myths around affordable housing, and one very important truth: “there is only one thing that solves homelessness; and that is housing.”

Calls to Action:

  • If affordable housing comes to your community - show up or write a letter and say, “I do want this here!”

  • Learn more, get out, make your voice heard. Be a positive voice - YOU make a difference. As Rebecca states, “…anytime we would get one positive phone call - when we were getting so many negative ones - it makes an extraordinary difference.”

  • If you hear of a project in your jurisdiction, support it. And Greg adds, “You also don’t have to wait for a project to come on the docket. You can go to the council and put in a notice to speak (open comment at the beginning) and say that you support the creation of more of affordable housing. That it’s the just, right thing to do.”

A Vision of Housing for All

Terry and Greg in the podcast studio.

Terry and Greg in the podcast studio.

On this episode of 'Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,' host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, welcomes Terry, a veteran who was formerly homeless and is now an advocate for a vision of housing for all.

As a native Californian and San Diego resident for 47 years now, Terry shares his story of how he has experienced homelessness for most of his life. Greg and Terry discuss how different life circumstances can cause homelessness and some of the ways our listeners can help. Please send any questions you have for Terry - he will be returning to the show for a future Q&A episode!

Calls to Action:

  • Send in your questions for Terry by filling out the online form located at the bottom of the homelessinsandiego.org homepage - he will be back for a future episode of Q&A!

  • You can be an advocate like Terry and ask city council to address San Diego’s housing needs

  • Be aware and care - as Terry says, “let’s lookout for the people”

These Are My Walls

Holly and Tom in the podcast studio.

Holly and Tom in the podcast studio.

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, is joined by Holly Nelson, Carlsbad Clinical Outreach Manager. Holly also introduces Tom, who had spent eight years on the streets until two years ago when he began his journey with Interfaith.

As a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), Holly discusses some of the challenges faced by Tom and many others who have experienced homelessness, including the struggles around falling into the cycle of self-medicating to ease the pain. Tom shares how he found Interfaith and met Holly, who in addition to helping with benefit enrollment, finding housing, and becoming sober, has also become a dear friend who he can count on. Tom's strength has paid off as he expresses how he feels when he looks around his home - "pure gratitude, these are my walls."

Calls to Action:

  • Advocate to local leaders to support programs like HOPE (Homeless Outreach Program Entitlement) and organizations like Interfaith, which can help people like Tom

  • Refer people to services - spend a little time to listen to someone’s story and if they have the desire to overcome homelessness you can refer services that can help them. Interfaith holds walk-in intake hours at the following locations/times:

    • Escondido- Betty and Melvin Cohn Center:

      550 W Washington Ave., Escondido, CA 92025; (760) 489-6380

      Walk-in hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 11:00am, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

    • Oceanside- Coastal Service Center

      4700 North River Road, Oceanside, CA 92057; (760) 721-2117

      Walk-in hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 11:00 am (closed first Friday of the month)

    • Carlsbad Service Center

      5731 Palmer Way, Suite A, Carlsbad, CA 92010; (760) 448-5696

      Walk-in hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

  • Treat people with kindness and respect - as Tom discusses in the episode, some people’s ridicule of homeless people can make life more difficult than it already is, and “after a whole day of this, it’s hard going to bed at night thinking how you have to do it all again.” A little kindness, especially towards someone who is receives a lot of judgement, can go a long way.

Tears, Laughter, and Everything it Takes to Escape Homelessness

Shawn, Daniel, Anna Selfie.jpg

On this episode of ‘Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,’ host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, is joined by two coworkers; Daniel Sturman, Shelter Intake Specialist, and Anna Mades, Social Worker - Homeless Outreach Team OPD (Oceanside Police Department).

Greg, Shawn, Anna, and Daniel in the podcast studio.

Greg, Shawn, Anna, and Daniel in the podcast studio.

Daniel and Anna also introduce Shawn, who up until two months ago was experiencing homelessness for 15 years. Shawn shares her journey, the trials and tribulations she had to overcome, while Daniel and Anna discuss how they met Shawn, the 'choice words' they sometimes have to deal with in their line of work, and ultimately the strength they see within people like Shawn who are the reason they do what they do. They laugh, they cry, they get real - so our listeners have the opportunity to truly understand homelessness.

Calls to Action:

  • Donate to Interfaith Community Services to help more people like Shawn escape homelessness - Sometimes we encounter individuals who appear homeless and do not give because they may use it inappropriately. Daniel wishes to challenge people to take that sense of fear of giving and find solace in knowing that a donation to Interfaith is guaranteed to be used effectively and will change lives for the better.

    • Contribute to Offering Hope in Housing - make a monetary gift to benefit Interfaith by clicking here or mail your contribution to 550 W. Washington Ave., Escondido, CA 92025

    • Donate to Make It A Home - provide the dignity of a comfortable home for those we house by donating lightly used furniture and new household items. For questions or to schedule a pick-up or drop-off, please call 760-489-6380 ext. 206.

    • Donate warm blankets and jackets, for those in Interfaith’s Haven House Shelter and directly to Oceanside HOT and other homeless outreach teams

  • Try not to judge people by what you see and instead offer someone in need the resources that can help them escape homelessness:

    • Oceanside Police Department Homeless Outreach Team: 760-435-4418, 307 N Nevada Street, Oceanside, CA

    • Daniel’s Walk-in Screenings are on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 8:00am - 10:00am at 550 W. Washington Ave., Escondido, CA 92025

    • Interfaith Community Services: 760-489-6380

Bonus Episode: Ellis Overcomes Homelessness

On this bonus episode of 'Homeless in San Diego: Real People, Real Stories,' host Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, invites Ellis Rose back to the podcast to finish sharing his story. When we left off, Ellis was sleeping on the street on the coldest night of the year. The two discuss the extreme difficulties faced by those attempting to overcome homelessness, and Ellis shares how he was able to finally find his way off the streets, once and for all.

Calls to Action:

  • As Greg and Ellis discuss, often lost in the representation of the homeless, are those voices who are actually experiencing it. You can make a difference by contacting the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors to encourage the formation of an Advisory Committee to represent those voices.

    • City of San Diego

      • Contact the City: 619-533-4000

      • Contact your elected official; a list of contact information can be found by clicking here

    • County Board of Supervisors

      • District 1 - Supervisor Greg Cox: 619-531-5511, greg.cox@sdcounty.ca.gov

      • District 2 - Supervisor Dianne Jacob: 619-531-5522, dianne.jacob@sdcounty.ca.gov

      • District 3 - Supervisor Kristen Gaspar: 619-531-5533, kristin.gaspar@sdcounty.ca.gov

      • District 4 - Supervisor Nathan Fletcher: 619-531-5544, nathan.fletcher@sdcounty.ca.gov

      • District 5 - Supervisor Jim Desmond: jim.desmond@sdcounty.ca.gov