Many of us just don’t know how to respond to homelessness in our communities. I understand that walking by our homeless neighbors stirs our compassion but sometimes also stirs confusion about the best way to help. Often, I hear people ask how they can help for fear of worsening the problems contributing to homelessness. They probably haven’t heard the stories out of New Orleans yet. If they had, they would know that in the years following Hurricane Katrina, when the NOLA homeless population was at 11,600, NOLA stepped up their efforts and brought homelessness down by 90%. Yes, you read that correctly. 90%! Chronic homelessness can feel discouraging and intractable. But here’s the thing: it’s not. Dramatically reducing homelessness in Ventura County is not only possible, it’s realistic.

The state of California is currently making big investments in solutions, not just Band-aids, for homelessness. We’re finally seeing opportunities to try proven strategies rather than cycling through the same, ineffective approaches. Here’s how Interface is contributing to the solution (and here’s how you can help):

  • 2-1-1 is helping all our partners (including the County of Ventura) to identify homeless and imminently homeless earlier, before problems have mushroomed, so that we can find available solutions. Better identification of those at greatest need in our community leads to earlier interventions and better outcomes. As 2-1-1 and our community partners find solutions, we actually see more flow of federal dollars back home to help us keep doing what we do. (Keep reading for an example!)

  • We’re re-opening our county’s only Runaway Homeless Youth Shelter. Interface posted a 95% success rate in getting homeless youth aged 12-18 safely housed, with nearly all back into safe families after only 12 days of shelter on average! 50% of these youth will join ranks of the adult homeless within one year if we don’t shelter them as teens and address the root causes for their homelessness. Most of the youth on our streets have experienced complex trauma involving their whole family and long-term housing insecurity, family violence, drug abuse, and/or mental illness. They are at huge risk on the street for commercial sexual exploitation, and yet they need more than just a bed. They and their families need longer-term clinical and case management support for more lasting outcomes that ultimately reduce our homeless population. When a homeless youth finds their way to Interface, our team jumps into action with the following services:

      • Shelter: Interface’s licensed 24/7 six-bed shelter, will provide safe and stable housing for up to 21 days.

      • Screening and assessment: Pre-screening and data collection in person or by phone to determine the needs of every youth, followed by an assessment for experiences such as human trafficking.

      • Case Management: Trauma-informed support and stabilization services to help youth access gateway services (referral, linkage, and immediate access to food, clothing, temporary shelter, transportation, hygiene and counseling) and create an effective plan to achieve stable housing.

      • Counseling: Trauma-informed individual, family, or group mental health services using evidenced-based practices.

      • Family Mediation: Structured, facilitated dialogues to promote family conflict resolution and safe environments to facilitate immediate re-housing of sheltered youth within birth or extended families.

      • Follow Up/Aftercare: At least three months (ideally longer) after youth exit shelter, Interface continues services such as case management, counseling, mediation, housing stability and referrals/linkage to resources.

      • Youth Outreach Line: 24/7 hotline or 2-1-1 available 365 days provides screening, assessment, resource, referrals, access to shelter and homeless youth services.

Solutions for Runaway Homeless Youth the numbers:

  • Interface estimates that 200 youth are on the streets any given night in Ventura County

  • 95% successfully off the streets after 12 days in our shelter

    • 85% back with families with support like family counseling and mediation

    • Another 10% to other safe non-family settings like drug treatment, long-term non-family shelter

We need your help! If you want to help relieve the needs of our homeless neighbors in a way that actually helps and doesn’t harm, please make a donation to help us furnish and fund our new shelter. It’s been raining hard this year and there are teenagers with no safe place to sleep. We can fix this just like NOLA!

With respect and compassion,


Erik Sternad
Executive Director

Click here to donate or call (805) 485-6114.