How Riverside plans to use interns to help the homeless

sanfranciscohomelessPeople without a place to live or on the brink of homelessness often sleep blocks from churches and government agencies trying to lift people out of homelessness.

Meanwhile, local universities have students training to address homelessness, who sometimes travel to other counties or continents to help. The social work internship program approved by the Riverside City Council on Aug. 14 aims to connect those needs with those seeking to help.

La Sierra, California Baptist University and Loma Linda University will send 13 interns to six faith-based nonprofit organizations in Riverside starting this year. The interns will also be tasked with finding grant money to continue the program in future years and with compiling data on the program’s effectiveness.

“We have congregations with very loving people who simply need some structure for how to serve the community, and this is a way to provide that structure,” said Daphne Thomas, an associate professor of social work at La Sierra University and field director of the Riverside school’s internship program. “We’re simply putting it together.”

After a one-year pilot, the program is expected to expand to other sites, including religions other than Christianity and interns from professions other than social work, said Luke Villalobos of Mayor Rusty Bailey’s office, which is supervising the program along with Path of Life Ministries. …

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