Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

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Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless
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A homeless encampment near downtown Santa Barbara train station (Photo: John Palminteri)

Source: County of Santa Barbara

Results of the biennial Point in Time (PIT) Count of persons experiencing homelessness were released today. Conducted on January 24, 2019 by the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care (CoC), the Count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and serves as a snapshot of homelessness in the county on a single night. The County and CoC provided oversight of the PIT Count, working closely with Northern Santa Barbara County United Way Home for Good, Applied Survey Research, Simtech Solutions and more than 500 volunteers.  

Countywide, 1,803 persons were counted with the largest number counted in the city of Santa Barbara. The count includes 1,133 persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness and 670 persons living in emergency shelters or transitional housing. In 2017, the official PIT count was 1,860. There was a notable shift between sheltered and unsheltered persons between 2017 and 2019.

Year

Sheltered

Unsheltered

Total

2017

967

893

1,860

2019

670

1,133

1,803

Highlights from the data include:

• 42 percent of the unsheltered count (1,133) was persons living in their vehicles (479) 

• 115 households with 226 children under the age of 18 were literally homeless the night of the count (this does not include families doubled up, paying for a motel or at-risk of homelessness)

• 423 persons were experiencing chronic homelessness, an increase of 87 percent (226) from 2017

Home for Good recruited more than 500 volunteers to assist, including 449 people who showed up at 5 a.m. to canvas 89 census tracts across the county. A new methodology in alignment with national best practices relied on geographic coverage in place of staged events to more accurately reflect populations. The 2019 PIT Count will serve as a baseline for future data comparisons. Volunteers who were canvassing and surveying used a mobile application from Simtech to gather real-time data. Additionally, vehicle counts were conducted using guidance from Applied Survey Research with demographic information provided from the New Beginnings Safe Parking Program.

The chart below provides count data by city or area compared to the 2017 PIT homeless population estimates for combining both unsheltered and sheltered populations. The homeless population was distributed throughout the county: 1,074 (60%) persons in south county, 475 (26%) persons in north county and 254 (14%) in mid-county.

City /Area

2019 PIT Count 

2017 PIT Homeless Population Estimates

Carpinteria

21

20

Summerland

8

not reported

Montecito

6

not reported

Goleta

119

124

Guadalupe

4

not reported

Isla Vista

33

32

Lompoc

249

274

Santa Barbara

887

987

Santa Maria

464

422

Orcutt

7

not reported

Buellton/Solvang/Santa Ynez Valley

5

1

New Cuyama

0

not reported

Total

1803

1860

The survey included questions regarding last permanent residence and how long a person had lived in the county. The results below support data collected in the Homeless Management Information System that the population experiencing homelessness is largely part of the community and not those who have relocated from other regions.

  • 76 percent became homeless while living in Santa Barbara County
  • 60 percent have lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 10 years or the majority of their lives

A comprehensive report of the PIT data and Housing Inventory for homeless persons will be released later in the year.

The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care promotes community-wide planning and strategic use of resources and programs targeted to people experiencing homelessness. The County of Santa Barbara serves as the lead agency for the CoC. For more information, go to www.countyofsb.org/housing/continuumprogram.sbc.

The County is in the process of a regional homeless planning effort to address homelessness. To review the Phase 1 Community Plan to Address Homelessness, go to www.countyofsb.org/uploadedFiles/housing/Content/Homeless_Assistance/Documents/Phase_1_for_website.pdf. For information about the County’s Housing and Community Development Division, go to www.countyofsb.org/housing.

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Factotum Mar 22, 2019 02:05 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Those who have participated in these counts agree with you 100%, Roger - there is a severe undercount .Plus political motivation drives the millions of dollars we now spend on vagrancy, who want to prove what they do is "working". The whole "count" exercise is now reduced to one more self-justification scam that serves to maintain the status quo for those employed by Homeless Inc.

MasterChief Mar 22, 2019 09:40 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Perhaps we should stop wasting millions of tax dollers on illeagles,and put that money to better use helping our homeless AMERICAN CITIZENS! Many of whom are Veterans that proudly Served This Country.

Factotum Mar 22, 2019 02:07 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Only a very small percentage of vagrants are veterans and the VA already runs a specific program for homeless vets. We already gave at the office for this sub-population group. Veterans need to take advantage of what has already put on the table.

a-1561441023 Mar 22, 2019 08:15 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

50% of Santa Barbara police calls have to do with homeless. It’s a huge burden. We have a Methodism clinic off upper state street that acts as an artificial reef for addicts. They can never be more than a mile away from it and there are encampments along the train tracks and overpasses nearby. Our climate may be nice but we make it even. Over with warming shelters. Take the warming shelters away. If they don’t want to die they don’t have to become heroin and meth addicts in the first place. Whether it’s AIDS, and overdose, a train, or freezing to death, they’re going to die anyway.

Factotum Mar 22, 2019 02:10 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Thank you for explaining why there has been this concentration of theft and assault crimes in the Upper State Street area. Agree, letting addicts bottom out is a proven path to recovery. We should no longer interfere with what works.

a-1561441023 Mar 22, 2019 05:54 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

No PITMIX you've got it all wrong. Illegals living 5-6 to a house, sometimes 3 families, drive the rental prices up. When you've got 3 families living together the landlord can charge more b/c there is sharing of rent so they'd rather get more rent $$ and rent to them so they up the rents, and the rest of us suffer b/c we can't pay that as we don't live 3 families to a house.

a-1561441023 Mar 22, 2019 05:54 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

No PITMIX you've got it all wrong. Illegals living 5-6 to a house, sometimes 3 families, drive the rental prices up. When you've got 3 families living together the landlord can charge more b/c there is sharing of rent so they'd rather get more rent $$ and rent to them so they up the rents, and the rest of us suffer b/c we can't pay that as we don't live 3 families to a house.

Factotum Mar 22, 2019 02:17 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

More than 25,000 at UCSB now, not 20,000, but many live in student housing on campus or in IV. SBCC is the one who lost its way and stopped being a local community college a few years back in order to drive up their own operating revenues. Out of district SBCC, SBCC recruited out of district students, has had the largest impact on loss of local small unit housing in town, along with plenty of illegal STR conversions. What is the status of the city's ADU policy - how many former illegal second units have been legally converted, or new legal ones added. Has this ADU policy grown the numbers of small unit, less than market rate housing units?

bosco Mar 22, 2019 10:12 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

There is a difference between homeless housing and low income housing. Low income housing requires an income. There is designated homeless housing (often within low income buildings). With regard to homeless, it's people with addiction and mental health issues. It's a different set of services all together. Obviously, it's not black and white. But to say that illegals occupying low income housing is the reason we have 900 homeless people with disabilities and mental health issues is just wrong. The only thing it does is show your bias for blaming every problem on illegal immigration. That's a different issue.

PitMix Mar 22, 2019 09:33 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Undocumenteds are only here because they can find work. Having 50,000 students here (30K at SBCC and 20K at UCSB) puts way more pressure on the housing stock and parking than the undocumenteds living 5 to a bedroom and not owning cars so not contributing to the parking problem.

a-1561441023 Mar 21, 2019 02:34 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

I believe we should take care of our local homeless. If 76% are from this area (I doubt that number is correct but I'll go with it) then that leaves ~1,400 total "local" homeless. With ~1000 already sheltered, we only need roughly 400 - 500 more beds. I'd be willing to pay more in taxes if came with the following polices: 1. ALL Homeless assistance is only provided to individuals who can prove residency in SB county prior to becoming homeless (no more homeless tourists). 2. Anyone who can't prove residency get's a one way ticket out of town. 3. The kicker. Make it illegal to sleep on the street, in your car, or in the bushes. This should not be acceptable. The police should be empowered to go around pickup anyone found living in the street. With 400,000 county residents I can't imagine it would be that expensive to provide another 500 beds with mental health services. If we can pull enough resources to provide the local homeless with adequate services and eliminate the homeless tourists, we can (and should) make homelessness illegal.

bosco Mar 22, 2019 10:19 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

If we can adequately provide a shelter or alternative place to go, then yes you can criminalize homelessness. At that point it becomes choice. No one should be allowed to make a choice that negatively effects the community. That's what laws are for.

PitMix Mar 21, 2019 01:17 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

There were about 554,000 homeless people in the US in 2017. With a US population of 327 million, that means our share of homeless from Goleta to Carpenteria by population is about 350. I propose that the local cities find the funds to help that number of people. The rest of the money should come from the feds because this is a national problem.

a-1561441023 Mar 21, 2019 10:39 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Once the passed and enforced the no RV ordinance I stopped seeing the rolling hunk of junks parked on our street with goodness knows who living in them. It worked. Time for some more ordinances. And what exactly is Murrillo's stance on this? I've heard nothing from her - except her idiotic protests of our President. What a wet rag.

SantaBarbaraObserver Mar 21, 2019 09:43 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

1% of our city's population is homeless? Holy cow. That's quite an indictment on our city, its leadership and its future. What bothers me is there is still not a peep of a plan to help or end it from our mayor, the Cathy Murillo. This woman has turned out to be the worst possible mayor at a time when our city desperately needs a strong leader. Deeply disappointed in the city's management, staff and elected officials. They are failing miserably and we are all going to continue to pay for it with taxes and the continued decrease in the quality of life so many of us work so hard to achieve.

bas4241 Mar 21, 2019 09:14 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

It seems wrong to remove comments due to down-votes. They may be the most accurate comments or at least a legitimate to the discussion, but they are silenced because certain people can't stand to be challenged. Inappropriate comments should be removed by the moderator, but opposing views should not be removed due to down-votes as they are now. That is not debate or even discussion. Just show the number of down-votes and let people see the comment and decide if they agree or not for themselves and reply if they want. That would be legitimate debate. Hiding opposing view from the "in crowd" is not. Unfortunately this is what is going on in our Universities also.....I wonder how long this comment will stay up?

Edhat Staff Mar 21, 2019 09:15 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

You can email us at ed@edhat.com with questions, or read our comment policies (https://www.edhat.com/about-edhat/comment-policies) but let's keep these comments on topic, thanks. -ed staff

a-1561441023 Mar 21, 2019 08:01 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Hundreds are living along the highway and the train tracks from Montecito to Goleta. Caltrans and Union Pacific must take some responsibility for allowing this situation to grow. Trains and Caltrans trucks pass these large encampments many times a day. Surely, the locations of the camps or the tons of debris left behind can be reported and then cleaned up. It would take a huge joint effort: sheriff, city police, city and county social services/public health, etc. But it needs to be done. One camp at a time. Just do it. Give them notice and then get in there with the bulldozers. They did it in the Lompoc Riverbed. Ask them how they did it. I think it cost them nearly $1 million. So down here it will probably cost 10 times that as we have 10 times the problem.

a-1561441023 Mar 20, 2019 11:46 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

While I doubt the accuracy of the data collected, 24% came to the area homeless. That is not a small amount. Almost 500 homeless people admitted to coming here to live on the street. Wrap your heads around that. It’s a problem.

letmego Mar 21, 2019 10:49 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Well, if you were going to live outdoors, where would you want to live? Someplace cold, or not? I lived in the northeast for a long time. There were homeless there too...but winters got mighty cold, and there were fights for the "grates" where heat would come up from where the subways were.

a-1561441023 Mar 20, 2019 11:31 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

What I don't get about these statistics is how things are recorded as though all of the transients/homeless/unsheltered are telling the truth. Who's to say which of these vagrants has lived here for a decade or became homeless while living here? All we have is their "truth," and I suspect most of them want to talk story and only illicit sympathy. Nearly all of the homeless I've ever spoken with are from the East Coast or grew up in colder climes. Santa Barbara and Goleta need to put in place ordinances that restrict this mess of people pandhandling, sleeping in the parks, living in makeshift camps in the bushes, camping on the beaches, sleeping on benches, sleeping in downtown doorways. It's got completely out of control.

Factotum Mar 20, 2019 10:13 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

If there are fewer panhandlers and vagrants it is because they destroyed State Street retail and fewer pedestrians for them to hassle. Thefts and break-ins have gone up in order to compensate their declining pan-handling street income. Vagrants have no place in this town.

winter Mar 20, 2019 07:49 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

I am harressed, every day at every gas station, supermarket, been here 15 years... Pay a huge amount for a home to rent. Pick grocery stores more expensive so I don't get bothered...sad.. Goleta, is so bad now...Trader Joe's, o.k., Gelsons, Whole Foods, fine.. They are at every entance, exit.. Now with small cute dogs...feel terrible for the dogs...

ZeroHawk Mar 21, 2019 09:00 AM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

really? i have been shopping at Trader Joes (all 3 locs) and Ralphs downtown for decades...i have not once seen a panhandler there, aside of March of Dimes and the xmas bell ringers. Please let us know where the hordes of homeless panhandlers are at.

SBSBSBSBSBsb Mar 20, 2019 07:04 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

If someone thinks Santa Barbara is starting to look like San Francisco I suggest the next time you are in the bay area walk through the tenderloin or skid row in LA. There is no comparison.

Ryan93105 Mar 20, 2019 08:03 PM
Increase in Unsheltered Santa Barbara County Homeless

Those places began a way, and continued to what they are. A more realistic question would be: how does lower State compare now, than it did even 20 years ago? At least there's not really any increase in violence, just an increase in unpleasant surroundings, and of course an increase in commercial vacancies. I love this area. I loved it a lot more when it was still a town. I'll love it til the day I'm priced out of it, and will be glad for my time here. Looked up Grover Beach recently, thinking it might be like sb in the 90s, but nope, its the same sitch there as here.

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