About Us

How it all Began

The idea for the 5Cities Homeless Coalition first began with one individual recognizing the needs of the homeless within our community. Patti Diefenderfer, who currently heads up the Special Population Health Services department for Community Health Centers in Grover Beach, has spent the last several years interacting with our homeless neighbors here on the Central Coast. As a result, she has become keenly aware of the need for services and assistance to this section of the population that are currently not being met. She decided she wanted to do something about it, which resulted in the creation of the 5Cities Homeless Coalition.  Patti started the work of assembling people with a heart for helping those in need  in our community.

Shortly afterward, Patti met Betsy Ehrler, President of the South County People’s Kitchen in the 5-Cities area, and so began the Coalition.Both women come from a place of compassion and truly seek to help the less fortunate of our community. Together they began building a coalition of people and organizations within the 5-Cities area.  As other like-minded people were drawn to the organization, discussions began on how to bring about positive change to help the less fortunate of our community achieve self-sufficiency. Today over 30 individuals, representing several faith based organizations and service agencies have become involved.

The Vision: A One Stop Care Facility

Planning on how best to address the needs of the homeless in South County has involved many caring citizens and community leaders.  A fundamental challenge of the region is the disparate services that are offered, over the more than 20 square miles that make up the Five Cities. When people locally were asked whether they thought a services center or night shelter should be a priority in the Five Cities – the overwhelming answer was a services center. By co-locating the various social services, homeless residents would have better access to the breadth of services available to address their needs, and the services could be more efficiently offered in one location.  A vision was soon developed for a South County Community Services Center that would continue to provide a hot nutritious meal in addition to a health clinic, mental health, drug & alcohol counseling, a veteran’s affairs office, help with housing and jobs training and support, showers, telephone, computers, washing machines, and a mail drop.

Please check our News and Events page for current updates on the project.

For more information and to get involved please contact:

Liz Holwand, 5CHC Executive Administrator

By phone: (805) 710-4330
email: liz.howland@5chc.org