Tensions ramped up between transient homeless encampments and business community

Homeless advocate: 'Us and them mentality'

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Tensions between members of Santa Barbara's homeless and business communities are ramping up, especially in Downtown.

Wednesday afternoon, Santa Barbara police were called to a homeless encampment recently set up along a half-block stretch of Laguna Street near Gutierrez Street. A woman at the site confirmed that her husband had been arrested within the past hour.

A homeless advocate, who asked to remain anonymous, said a nearby business owner was upset that the camp had been established right outside his property and repeatedly asked police to have it removed. 

The advocate explained that the people living at the camp had just been moved from an area closer to the freeway by a Caltrans crew doing brush clearance. That person explained that the City forces homeless people to move their camps and belongings every 72 hours and expressed concern about an "us and them mentally" ramping up against the homeless by local residents; the person revealed how someone threw fireworks at this group Tuesday night and people driving by often shout obscenities and "Go back to LA!"

The homeless advocate explained that roughly 70 percent of homeless people are from the local area but that this particular group is from out-of-state and hoped to head home in the near future. 

That segued to an event happening Thursday night at The Sandbox at 414 Olive St. The homeless advocate said that Home For Good Santa Barbara County, a division of United Way, had organized a viewing of US & THEM: Eye-Opening Documentary on Homelessness. 

Thursday's event starts at 5:30 p.m. with a food truck. The film starts at 6:30 p.m. and a panel of experts will follow afterwards. The event is free and open to the public. 

For more information about the film, click here.

For more information about Home for Good, click here.

For more information about The Sandbox, click here.

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