The Keys to Housing the Homeless

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Source: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury

In 2020, the State of California proposed two programs with one-time funding to help communities manage their homeless populations: Project Roomkey and Project Homekey. Both programs were also an urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent disastrous effects on the homeless. Roomkey secured short-term hotel rooms for elderly homeless who were at risk of catching and spreading the virus. Homekey was intended to house some of that same population through conversion of available buildings to permanent housing. The initial Roomkey funding ended September 30, 2021; the first Homekey funding allocation ended December 31, 2020. Santa Barbara County made promising steps to address homelessness with the one-time State funding. The time constraints motivated county agencies to work together quickly to accomplish the housing goals within months. The collaboration wasunprecedented. 

However, the County has found it difficult to duplicate their initial successes with Projects Roomkey and Homekey. There is a discouraging lack of available property in the County, and property owners are reluctant to turn over what they have for the purpose of housing the homeless. Nor are there identified local funds to sustain the two programs without state and federal grant allocations. The 2021 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury looked into these barriers that could limit the success of the two homeless programs. 

For 2021-22, there is again $150 million in state funding available for Roomkey and $1.45 billion for Homekey. Future funding after 2022 is uncertain. The2021 Santa BarbaraCounty Grand Jury concluded that the County, its cities and the two Housing Authorities should make every effort to push past barriers in order to secure more housing for the homeless. 

The complete report is posted on the Grand Jury’s website:

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a-1637825368 Nov 24, 2021 11:29 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Destroyed by the ACLU not Reagan but on his watch. Time's up. Let's rebuild them. To hell with the ACLU.

Luvaduck Nov 25, 2021 08:05 AM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Regardless of who or what caused the closing of those custodial institutions, until they are reinstated, those who belong in there for their own good and the good of the community will continue to suffer. They are often targets for violence or the sources of it and can't be treated as if their only problem was being down and out.

RobinSB Nov 24, 2021 01:30 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

So all the programs and funding is temporary. Not going to solve anything.

We need to make homelessness illegal. It should be illegal to sleep or live on public spaces. Then instead of spending all the money just shepherding people between here or there, and not actually helping them at all in the process, instead - spend the money we currently waste on doing nothing towards a location somewhere more affordable where the folks can go and get the help they need, either drug or alcohol rehabilitation, mental health etc.

They can stay there and work as much as is possible to contribute to the success of the facility, themselves and ideally end up stable to avoid homelessness in the future. We have wasted so much $$ its insane.

Locally millions upon millions spent on temp housing just this year. Then what, they are out on the street again. I heard 60% of the police budget goes to homeless issues, and they are not helping anyone deal with it, just acting like shepherds.

I'm sure people will comment how lame this thought is, but they are part of the problem. Look at the current state of things and tell me it's working and a good value for the money.

If someone has a better idea, don't just try and be mean to someone who comments about this (with a proposed solution) - instead propose what you think will fix the issue. I don't care if you like my opinion or not, I care about solving the issue.

MarcelK Nov 24, 2021 07:24 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Making homelessness illegal means making them pay fines they can't afford and housing them in jails ... a real genius idea.

RHS Nov 25, 2021 08:22 AM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Make homelessness illegal? Isn't that a bit like noting that the law forbids the rich and poor alike from sleeping under the bridges? It's not like the homeless are enjoying their life by and large. And Happy Thanksgiving to you RobinSB.

FernaldPoint93108 Nov 24, 2021 03:43 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

California should build a massive “homeless city”in the vast unoccupied areas to the east, ship all homeless there, and send all homeless-related financial resources there.

Stray Nov 24, 2021 04:22 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

“One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up, and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
The homeless issue that divide us is large and complex. Like the man on the beach, it’s easy to conclude that there’s nothing we can do. There is truth in this belief. Suffering is part of life. There is nothing any of us is going to do to end sickness or injustice for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference, one homeless person at a time. And that, my friends, is why devoted souls work with the homeless, try to find cures for cancer, and seek homes for unwanted pets.

Transparent Nov 24, 2021 04:27 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

@Stray -- I 100% agree there is much to be done. It starts by telling the truth, as close to 100% as we can, about the nature of the problem, the effectiveness of interventions, and the pragmatic trade-offs in play.

Too often it's framed as a debate between those who want to do nothing, cause forget brotherhood and all that, and those who pretend that the issue would be all-but-solved but for the coldness of naysayers and something about the corporate tax rate. The weeds of the issue are really ugly, but that's where the discussion needs to be.

RHS Nov 24, 2021 04:54 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

We refuse to recognize that the immediate issue, made visible by the homeless "epidemic", is the increased distribution of wealth to the few. In days past even the most menial job might allow a person the dignity of a room and security. Today those rooms are gone, they are high end hotels or bed and breakfast or condos. The jobs that existed then are occupied by more able folks who are less able to protest their working rules (i.e., immigrants especially). The grasp for wealth beyond excess has distorted to the social fabric. We need to return to a civil order that tolerates the less competent and provides basic needs for all. Not likely?

a-1637807632 Nov 24, 2021 06:33 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

I’m glad you brought this up, RHS. Not everyone is smart or clever or capable. We need, as a society, to have ways for those people to survive with dignity. Just obtaining the bare bones of subsistence is beyond some people. And yes, some people have thrown away opportunities in the past, so it’s hard to feel sympathetic towards them. But we’ve got to find some place for them in society.

Byzantium Nov 24, 2021 05:13 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

To say the solutions are "complex" is the long abused stalling tactic and has proven 100% counter-productive in support only of the status quo agenda. Perhaps defense of the status quo is what is "complex", since so many are now feeding off the Homeless Inc trough. I suspect they are the ones claiming vagrancy is too complex to solve, because it would affect their own piece of the vagrancy pie. Not interested in solving this, just getting this population off the streets and out of their fire prone vagrant camps, so the rest of us do not have to live at the mercy of their "complex issues". Get them off the streets into some form of lock down re-settlement camp that keeps the rest of us out of their harm's way. Then in that lock down setting, deal with the "complexity" of their issues. Nothing complex at all about step one - off the streets where they can no longer harm the rest of us. Then take the billions of tax dollars raised every year by the Mental Health Services Act and let Homeless Inc deal with their complex issues to their hearts content. There is nothing humane about continuing this Homeless Inc supported rip off claiming the issue is "too complex" to solve. That is a status quo cop-out and we all know that now.

CoastWatch Nov 24, 2021 08:02 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

FORCED drug/alcohol rehab and then mandatory 2 years working on a CalTrans road maintenance crew with housing provided during those 2 yrs. If the rehab/work contract is broken, JAIL with hard time. F the ACLU!

AwareHuman Nov 24, 2021 09:32 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Drug cartels certainly aid ,& abet homelessness. And,l the homeless people industrial complex as well. ...big bucks to "nonprofits" thru grants & government funding....but, only for addicts & alcoholics. So many nonaddicted homeless get NO help b cause the money flows to addicts. I know some homeless, none of which are mentally ill or addicted/alcoholics. They get nothing. Hence the follow the money truism ...after all, those directors of " nonprofits" do so love their BMWs.

Byzantium Nov 24, 2021 09:50 PM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

Independent Institute policy recommendation study found the following for the San Francisco study group - will not apply to Santa Barbara because few vagrants even have jobs: (1) the number one self-reported cause of a person’s homelessness was the loss of a job (26 percent)
(2) Alcohol or drug use was the second most common reason (18 percent)
(3) eviction (13 percent)
(4) being kicked out of one’s residence after an argument with family or friends (12 percent).

Pete Stronzo Nov 25, 2021 01:01 AM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

A humane and compassionate way to make even a small difference is to contribute to Showers of Blessing. They provide private showers, a freshly laundered towel and washcloth, a pair of new cotton socks, a pair of new underwear, hygiene items and limited emergency clothing.

These services are entirely free and access is unconditional to all people who are without a home or are in temporary or unstable housing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shasta Guy Nov 25, 2021 10:41 AM
The Keys to Housing the Homeless

It’s probably been ~50 years since the ACLU lawsuits led to end of involuntary institutionalization of the mentally ill by states. Where’s the middle ground between keeping them in facilities and leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets? In 50 years there’s been tremendous technical innovation, including this iPad I’m typing on, but we can’t seem to find the social innovation to care for this vulnerable class of people.

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