Micheal Weidekemper, 58 years old, works on his bike at La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in Carlsbad on Dec. 13, 2022.
Micheal Weidekemper, 58 years old, works on his bike at La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in Carlsbad on Dec. 13, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

After a day’s work as a public attendant at a hotel in North County, 58-year-old Michael Weidekemper rides his bike home to La Posada de Guadalupe, a homeless shelter in Carlsbad.  

He was previously living on the streets but has been staying at La Posada for almost four months, he told me on a recent visit to the shelter. Despite having a job, he hasn’t been able to move into a place on his own – he just can’t afford it, he said, adding that he feels lucky to have a home at La Posada. 

Catholic Charities, the nonprofit that runs La Posada, plans to add a second floor to the shelter to serve women and children.  

La Posada started in 1992 as housing for farmworkers. In 2013, it became a permanent shelter with 50 beds for farmworkers and 50 beds for adult homeless men. It’s one of only two low-barrier shelters in North County. 

Micheal Weidekemper, 58 years old, works on his bike at La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in Carlsbad on Dec. 13, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Low-barrier shelters don’t require things like sobriety, background checks and program participation. 

Carlsbad had the fourth highest unsheltered homeless population in North County at the time of the last Point In Time Count, San Diego County’s annual homeless census. The city’s unsheltered homeless population decreased by about 20 percent from 2020 to 2022, but homeless service providers are noticing increasing need for shelter, especially among women and children.  

“In North County, there are a very limited number of beds for unsheltered women, especially women with children” said Catholic Charities CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor. “And as this need increases, we want to ensure that whatever shelter we have is not exclusive just to one demographic.” 

Right now, most homeless shelters countywide are for adult men and women. Shelters that aren’t specifically designed for families cannot necessarily prioritize keeping families together and can’t guarantee the right environment for children.  

At the time of the Point In Time Count, 32 families were living on the street in San Diego County, a 113 percent increase from the 15 families counted in 2020.  

The Regional Task Force on Homelessness reported an 89 percent spike in newly homeless families in shelters from 2019 to 2021. 

Dallin Mifflin with his dog Lita are residents of La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in Carlsbad on Dec. 13, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Pajanor expects those numbers to continue to increase. 

The only other family shelter in North County is Operation Hope, a higher-barrier shelter serving women and families in Vista. Operation Hope is currently at capacity and has a waiting list. 

Interfaith Community Services has also been operating a temporary family shelter since 2021, but plans to open a permanent low-barrier family shelter in Escondido early next year. 

Catholic Charities will also be converting La Posada from an emergency shelter to a navigation center, meaning individuals will receive help with finding employment, finding permanent housing, addiction recovery while staying there. 

The expansion at La Posada will include 50 additional beds, as well as another kitchen and more dining and bathroom facilities. Catholic Charities received $2 million from a county grant program to help cities expand or continue shelter programs. 

This will partially fund the roughly $5 million expansion, Pajanor said, but they will have to fundraise for the remaining $3 million. And once Catholic Charities receives the funding, they expect the expansion to be completed in roughly 24 to 30 months. 

In Other News

  • Interfaith Community Services, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless individuals, is partnering with North County colleges to develop programs that will help train existing and future behavior health specialists. Price Philanthropies has pledged $2.5 million toward a five-year pilot project, with an additional $1 million coming from the county. (Union-Tribune) 
  • SANDAG will receive a $10.5 million grant to build one mile of the Inland Rail Trail between Mar Vista Drive and Civic Center Drive in Vista. The state grant will go toward building a bikeway, pedestrian improvements at road crossings, fencing, lighting and a pocket park along that section of the Sprinter rail route. The path will eventually cover 21 miles along the Sprinter line between Escondido and Oceanside. (Union-Tribune) 
  • ICYMI: Oceanside more than doubled the fee residential developers must pay if they don’t include affordable units in their projects. The city’s Housing Commission argued the fee should be even higher to pressure developers to build affordable housing, but the City Council worried that higher fees would hinder development. (Voice of San Diego) 

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