SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The latest results for the Santa Barbara County homelessness count are in, and they show that fewer people are taking advantage of homeless shelters.
The 2019 Homeless Point-In-Time Count shows a big difference from 2017 to the present time. More people are living in the streets instead of in shelters.
While the number of persons experiencing homelessness has gone down over the past two years, the number of unsheltered is up by 240 people.
About 42 percent of the unsheltered count were persons living in their vehicles.
In Santa Maria, the overall homeless population was down from 464 people in 2017 to 422 people in 2019.
Public Information Officer Mark van de Kamp of the City of Santa Maria said the new numbers are giving officials critical information to shape the programs the city offers.
"Some people literally have nowhere to go. So by finding out how many people need the help and then connecting them, that is the job for Home for Good. The city also wants to ensure that people are safe and not living in dangerous situations," van de Kamp said.
According to van de Kamp, it's important to be compassionate while also being mindful of the laws that need to be maintained for businesses and residents.
He also stressed the importance of addressing this big issue through a team effort.
The city contributes to Home for Good as well as other nonprofits, which is just one of many ways they are working to solve the [homelessness] issue.