SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Community leaders report that a growing number of families are forced to live out of their vehicles. The Harvest Community Center is working to change that.
“Just yesterday I had a family come in --they were a mother, father and four kids who are living in their SUV because they don't have an apartment that they can afford to rent," Harvest Community Center Assistant Director Mayra Ramos said. "They go to gyms to take a shower, they come here to get some food.”
The nonprofit organization under Victory Harvest Church's roof provides food, tutoring, and other resources. But their goal is to provide shelter.
“The same family that started the church also wants to build this homeless shelter, so they've donated this piece of property,” said Ramos.
The property is located on 619 N. Railroad.
"Here would be the two-story building,” Ramos continued. "It should hold about 40 people, so that'll be at least six families.”
The shelter is projected to cost upwards of $2 million dollars, but Ramos said they're one step closer to their goal on Thursday.
“Yesterday, Idler's Home awarded us with a $1,600 check towards our homeless shelter project.”
The Santa Maria-based organization is also relying on the community's support.
“We're gonna need people to step in and say 'Hey, I want to help',” Ramos said.
The Harvest Community Center is applying for city grants, as well.
A Santa Maria spokesman explained the homeless shelter crisis the City declared in September will help Santa Maria tap into more state funds.
“The state budget, this time around, provides $500 million dollars just for this issue," Mark van de Kamp said.
Santa Barbara County is expected to receive about $9 million dollars. It's still unclear how much Santa Maria will receive. However, Van de Kamp said the City will continue partnering with local organizations to tackle the issue.
“We've had some people who have been living here from time to time and new people come and go, there's a lot of transition.”
In the meantime, Ramos said the Harvest Community Center is working day-to-day to convert the space on N. Railroad into a home.