The goals of Pacific Beach Clean and Safe are to help homeless individuals by providing jobs and upward mobility, and decrease complaints associated with inappropriate behavior. The program has been ongoing since February, and has already seen a lot of success.
Pacific Beach Street Guardians is a nonprofit organization that functions as a social enterprise. They offer street cleaning, janitorial and custodial services, and event set-up and take-down to local businesses as well as residents. They hire people who are currently experiencing homelessness, offering them part-time transitional jobs that move them toward self-sufficiency.
They also conduct community education, serving as a bridge between housed and unhoused populations, sharing about life on the streets to dispel myths and stereotypes about those who experience homelessness.
Since Pacific Beach Street Guardians started to service the Discover PB Clean and Safe contract, they have had 13 team members emptying garbage cans, picking up trash, sweeping, raking, weeding and removing graffiti from the public sidewalks, streets and right of ways in the Pacific Beach business improvement district. Pacific Beach Street Guardians team members also serve as outreach ambassadors to others who are experiencing homelessness, helping to offer resources for services as needed.
Because of the steady employment generated by Discover PB Clean and Safe, the street guardians have moved on to more stable living situations — two members earned enough money to relocate back with their families in the Midwest, one member was able to secure veterans housing, and another was offered a full-time position and housing.
Secure jobs offer team members a place to build self-esteem, confidence, discipline and dignity. These necessary skills transfer to other types of work and in to other facets of life. Having a place to belong – a place where they are needed and valued – serves as a cornerstone in building back what is needed to remove the barriers that may keep people from becoming self-sufficient. Discover PB Clean and Safe has offered an important piece of what it takes to move street guardians’ team members toward a life off of the streets.
The program’s safety ambassadors have been busy as well. Just this last month they handled eight fights, seven trespassing issues, two situations with weapons, two medical calls, two mental health issues and one indecent exposure. They are equipped with resources to provide alternatives for the homeless population, as well as having given referrals out to many of PB’s most vulnerable residents.
This program is funded entirely by temporary grant funds awarded from Councilmember Lorie Zapf, and Discover PB event funds and donations, and we have successfully secured $60,000. But that is only one-half the funding we need. In order to continue the program as is, providing six days a week of cleaning and 40 hours of safety ambassadors, we need to fundraise the remaining half.
Donations can be made to Discover Pacific Beach, tagged for Clean and Safe program, by check sent to 1503 Garnet Ave., or you may also donate by registering for Amazon Smiles and picking Pacific Beach Business Improvement Association as the charity where you would like to donate your proceeds.
Sara Berns is the executive director of Discover Pacific Beach.