Santa Barbara- S County

Updated homeless solutions involve government leaders, private help and volunteers

Forum discusses options and opportunities

A forum on homelessness shows collaboration as a path to solutions. (John Palminteri/

A sweeping solution to homeless issues has been laid out in a Santa Barbara forum to take on the  challenges from many angles.

It was held at LogicMonitor in the heart of downtown.

About 30 people, mainly business owners and representatives from service groups attended.  There were no members of the Santa Barbara City Council in the audience. The council receives similar information on a regular basis.

"The emphasis is how to make homelessness rare,  how to make it brief  and how to make it non reoccurring," said Emily Allen with Home for Good and the United Way.

She said there is technology that can help with a data base on those who are at risk of being homeless or who are homeless to help them with services and housing.

The causes of homelessness over time have been war, natural disasters, and poverty. Also, lack of affordable housing, unemployment , mental health needs and substance use disorders.

Young people tend to be homeless  due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse along with issues including discrimination, homophobia and poverty.

Those attending were adding to solutions with their experiences involving the homeless either through services or seeing the impacts on the community or regional gathering places they thought should be addressed.

The downtown State Street corridor is one of them.

Many would like an education program to discourage giving money to those soliciting for change on the street on a daily basis.

"We are going to have a campaign soon to change the trash cans so that they can not reach in and get food out.  It's going to be a big hurdle," said Carrie Kelly with the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization.

When it comes to more housing, Allen said there's a working plan for a social investment fund and ,   "there's actually models where people can see return on their investment for those who help   non profits and government entities and see return on their investments."

Greg  Shaffer, Director of Initiatives,  said day centers will be tried out, likely through a faith based site.   "There will be some service providers there. If it is effective, how do we move to a once a week model?  People will be able to get some care and not be as present on State street."

Assessment and referral services are among those said to be vital to a solution.

A recent one day  "point in time" count showed  887 homeless in Santa Barbara,  464 in Santa Maria, 249 in Lompoc and 119 in Goleta.


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