A Leg Up Service Center

A Demonstration Project for Reducing Homelessness


We are currently interviewing case managers and individuals working with the unhoused population.  The one area that keeps recurring in our conversations has to do with mental health services and getting clients to keep appointments.  There are a number of organizations and resources to support the un-housed.  However, there is a lack of mental health service resources.  Those services include counseling services, medical services and case managers to assist patients in attending regular mental health appointments.  There needs to be coordination within the region to support these mental health services.  There is also the opportunity of having interns or student workers to assist the programs by ensuring patients consistently make their appointments.  Consistent treatment is a major hurdle to addressing mental illness on all levels. If we are able to help people with mental illness, the stability will provide a foundation for transitioning out of homelessness.

Leg-UP Services Overview

Leg-UP is proposing to provide Oceanside’s homeless population, meaningful critical services that are needed and to address day-to-day needs. Leg-Up strongly believes in public and private partnerships and many of our partners will provide critical items that will improve their situations.


Through an extended network of private and public entities, the service delivery will start with the basics and provide them 24-hour access to services.  People are resilient in general, sometimes they need help to get back to a place where they are doing more than just surviving.  While in survival mode, people living on the street can’t think of what is coming next week, in 30 days, in 6 months or two years – they need to take address their immediate needs now.  In most cases the future is the next hour, not the next day.  How do I make it through the night? What do I need right now?


Below is a partial list of Basic Services that may be provided:


  • Access to Showers

  • Access to Restrooms

  • Access to Laundry

  • Mail Delivery

  • Personal Hygiene products

  • Answering Service (for those who are looking for jobs or want to contact family members, they need a place to be reached)

  • Access to Health Care

  • WiFi – free – bridging the digital divide

  • Tutoring service for families with children

  • Community Room for Alternative resources

  • Use of Computers

  • Referrals to Partners and Service Coordination

  • Transportation

  • Exchange Services including new tents, blankets, shoes, clothing, etc.

  • Water fountains for refills

  • Food (Working closely with churches and other agencies)


Let’s help those who can help themselves – by providing basic needs for those living on the streets, and/or in transitional living situations, in time, this will allow them to start refocusing, reduce the stress and trauma of daily life and build towards what ‘their’ future holds.  It will not be the same for everyone.

Homelessness is a complicated phenomenon, in which the characteristics of local human services systems, public policies, community-based organizations and individuals all play important parts.

Homelessness does not take on a single form or shape. The ways in which housing markets, employment, income, public benefit programs, and de-institutionalization interact to produce and perpetuate homelessness are complex and vary with the individual.

In most cases, Homelessness is the result of the failures in the support and service systems for income maintenance, employment, corrections, child welfare, foster care, and care of mental illness and other types of disabilities. Homeless people, in this view, are people with the problems that these systems were designed to help. The increasing extent of homelessness can be seen as evidence these systems are ineffective for various reasons—perhaps because of inadequate funding, excessive demand, or the intrinsic difficulties of responding to certain groups with special needs.[1]

Homelessness is surging in Oceanside due, in part, to the following:


  • Lack of affordable housing

  • Lack of year-round homeless shelters

  • Lack of on-going access to necessary services

  • Lack of access to ancillary services such as clean clothing; showers; mail drop; laundry; blanket and tent exchange; etc.

  • Lack of a like-minded outreach team (street representatives that are comprised of trained former homeless)


However, there are some potential bright spots during this pandemic such as the City securing 15 dedicated hotel rooms for the homeless and approved temporary permits for 50 overnight slots at various churches. Still, these are only temporary measures and basically only provide roughly 14% of the current homeless population with shelter for a finite amount of time. 


In 2018, Oceanside voters approved sales tax Measure X where a portion of that funding was targeted for public safety services and the Oceanside Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) consisting of two additional police officers and a vehicle. The tax revenue provides other OPD officers to engage in crime suppression focused on downtown and transient/homeless issues throughout the City. Along with the OPD HOT, the funding allows for a contract Social Worker to engage homeless individuals and link people to services they may need, such as mental health treatment and housing opportunities; and when needed may pay for emergency rent or first and last month’s rent as a bridge. In 2019, the City was awarded a one-year grant of $281,958 to support the hiring of two new contract full-time Social Workers to assist the HOT and the Housing Authority.  Funds will also be used for a database and bus passes for clients' searching for housing.  


Homeless advocate, Vanessa Graziano, who started a grassroots effort in Oceanside to get people on the streets into hotel rooms during the shelter-in-place order; says she’s concerned City Officials aren’t making progress to provide shelter for the city’s homeless community during this crisis and are not bringing resources to homeless on the streets. If not being done in crisis – what happens when the crisis ends?


In general, what does a community want when it comes to dealing with the homeless?


They don’t want to see them; deal with them; and now, expect the government to do something with them. They want to believe their community is a healthy, clean, safe environment and those living on the streets, some through no fault of their own are ‘handled.’ 


What we know doesn’t work – current programs that alienate those in need due to red tape, bureaucracy, forced outcomes and managed results.  Telling people who are living on the streets what society says is good for them, using a one size fits all series of ‘qualified’ services that are not always comprehensive, do not always fill the gaps and or connect to address the needs of those they attempt to serve. 


Leg-UP Service Center

LEG-UP is an innovative public-private partnership network with a program design that provides essential resources to those vs what is normally available from a standard menu of basic services.


Leg-UP Program Outreach

Leg-Up will reach out to the homeless community to recruit 10 current homeless individuals to become paid ambassadors for Leg-UP.  This aspect of the program is a critical component because who would know the population better and have more rapport with the homeless than someone who was there.


They will be trained in disseminating information to the homeless population on Leg-UP; communication techniques, referral services and safety. The Ambassadors will also coordinate with Oceanside’s HOT Program and Social Services to ensure coordination.


Additionally, those selected Ambassadors will be provided with housing; referral services and will be paid. The Goal for these individuals who work with Leg-UP for a year, will then transition into more permanent employment, education, housing, and other related services, etc.  Once an Ambassador successfully transitions out of the program, another will be selected and trained.  This consistent recruitment and transition of homeless individuals will maintain program integrity, consistency and rapport with the homeless.


Leg-UP Initial Target Populations

Below are the initial Target Population and will expand as the program grows:

  • Underemployed – those who are working but still cannot afford a roof over their head whether it’s the monthly payments or the first last month deposits.

  • Recently unemployed – due to a lot of reasons their jobs have gone away – and they ‘got behind’ and could not catch up

  • Emancipated youth – those aging out of the foster care system.  Most have no family, skills, and resent the system that they were raised in and therefore do not want ‘government help’

  • Runaways – those who for whatever reason, usually abusive relationships and households had to ‘get out’ for self-preservation.

  • Couch surfers – those on the edge who live from friend to friend, extended family, or others to stay inside.

  • Families – numerous reasons and stories – children without a roof over their head, living in cars, not is school, being set up for failure while mom and/or dad are trying their hardest to survive.

Single men – most services do not offer help for those down on their luck unless they have children.  Men are overlooked and sometimes just need a break, including Veterans


[1] National Institute of Health; Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Health Care for Homeless People.

Washington (DC): Chapter 2; National Academies Press (US)