SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria wants to put homeless citizens first. On Tuesday, the City Council recognized the issue as a top grant funding priority.
"It takes a village, in a way, to deal with the issue," said city spokesman, Mark van de Kamp. "We found that there was an increase of about 10% of people experiencing homelessness in Santa Maria."
Organizations like Good Samaritan Shelter blame the problem on the housing crisis.
"We have such a lack of affordable housing in our community," said Kirsten Cahoon. "On any given night, there's about 500 homeless individuals staying in one of our shelters."
In an effort to give more families a roof to sleep under, the Santa Maria is putting homelessness at the top of its grant funding list. The Community Development Block Grant is federal money awarded to Santa Maria every year.
"The money comes in on an annual basis, around $1.7 million," said Van de Kamp.
The top priority label means nonprofits like Good Samaritan shelter could qualify for more funding in 2020.
"The block grants have given us an opportunity to provide case management services," said Cahoon. "We're able to help provide them with housing resources, employment resources, help them with benefits, and all the things they need to get back on their feet."
"In the last decade, Good Samaritan has received about $1.4 million from the city and it varies in different amounts by the year," said Van de Kamp.
In the past, the grant has also been split between other nonprofits like Catholic Charities and the Food Bank.
This year, a large portion of the Community Block Grant was used to reconstruct the Paul Nelson pool.