County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Supervisors unanimously agreed to move forward with a community action plan to address homelessness.

The special meeting took place on Tuesday where the Board of Supervisors reviewed the 100-page Phase II Community Action Plan that included goals and strategies to reduce the homeless population in the county while also ensuring compliance with state requirements.

The plan identifies five strategies that include increasing access to safe and affordable housing, delivering tailored supportive services, building a collective action plan, strengthening support systems, and building provider capacity to address the needs of specific populations. Some of these specific populations include veterans, youth, and families.

The county is estimating there are nearly 2,200 homeless people within the county. Last year they counted 1,897 due to the "Point in Time" count of unsheltered people, but the count did not take place this year due to COVID-19.


A transient resting near the Highway 101 offramp at Storke Road in Goleta (Photo: Josh Blair)

The projection includes 1,662 unsheltered people, 126 in temporary shelter, and 407 sheltered. Due to the pandemic, county shelters were required to decrease their capacity to create distancing between their residents.

In 2020, there were 4,226 people who were provided shelter or services due to being homeless, 768 of those were children. This is compared to 3,633 in 2019. 

The report states 79% of people became homeless in Santa Barbara County with 61% living the majority of their life in the area.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig reported 448 total transient-related incident responses in 2020. The majority, 401, were emergency medical service responses while 47 were fire-related. The department inspected 21 encampments and performs weekly fire inspections at the Pallet House project and People's Park in Isla Vista.

With increased outreach in homeless encampments, the county has seen an increase from 9% successful placement in temporary or permanent housing in 2017 to 57% success in 2020.

Outreach is being conducted in Isla Vista, Butterfly Beach, East Beach, Goleta Beach, the Milpas Street corridor, City of Lompoc and Lompoc riverbed, and in Santa Maria.

Officials stating the demand for affordable housing within the county far exceeds what is available making it more difficult to find temporary or permanent housing. The supervisors agreed to review areas in their district where additional housing could be developed.

The key actions that are currently underway are securing permanent housing for veterans and youth, utilizing all of the one-time funding from the state, opening the South County Navigation Center to direct services to those in need, addressing COVID-19 impacts and temporary emergency shelters, full lease of new developments with adequate housing retention services, provider capacity-building, and expanded use of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to collect data.

Within the next six months, officials will identify sites for additional shelters and programs, increase prevention programs for at-risk homelessness, and adopt the plan region-wide to ensure commitment.

The full plan is available below:

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420722 Feb 25, 2021 09:18 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

The best way to get a person to leave or change is to make them feel really unwelcome and don’t give them anything for free. A free home will have the opposite reaction. These free homes will fill up quickly, word will spread that we’re giving away free homes for all and the next thing you’ll see is twice the amount of bums on freeway exits waiting for their turn at a free home. This is a mistake and it will be endless. Just wait and see.

Watcher237 Feb 25, 2021 04:05 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

I'm convinced the best area of government to properly address most of the needs of the homeless is the county level. The issue swamps cities, but needs too much specificity to be handled by the state government. Also, to add another branch to this complex topic, the amount of homeless afflicted with mental illness just speaks to the gross inability of the state mental health hospital system, which needs to be rebuilt.

CoastWatch Feb 25, 2021 03:21 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

SB has a FINITE area for human living, building and infrastructure. The Mountains on one side and the ocean on the other pose limits, thus the expensive cost of living. You don't have a "right" to housing anywhere you can't afford and it is not the responsibility of taxpayers to subsidize your "wants". If you can't afford to live on the South Coast, there are other areas that are affordable. I HAD to live in Santa Maria for 10 years until I could afford to live in SB... Not everyone can afford living in Beverly Hills- Are they creating low-income subsidized housing to the tune of over 20% of all housing units being subsidized by taxpayers like in Santa Barbara...? The answer in NO.

Humanitarian2003 Feb 25, 2021 01:39 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

We love living here because of the ideal climate and ocean proximity. This desirability brings others here who are not as skilled as to afford the elevated cost of living here. Some of these people choose to come here and live outdoors, just to be here. There is always work, but few of these people want to work as hard as the Mexicans on Yanonali will, so they become a burden on the system. Providing cheap housing will only encourage more to come. Loss of the Nuclear Family means no one to care for the inevitable dysfunctional family member, and no adequate mental health care means that these folks are having to get by as best as they can. Providing cheap housing for all homeless people is not the solution.

bumblebee Feb 25, 2021 12:16 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Umm...not enough housing, not enough water, not enough hospital beds, not enough electricity, traffic jams, class rooms over crowded. Is anyone seeing a pattern here? Are our local, state and federal government officials comatose at the wheel?

Ahchooo Feb 25, 2021 12:53 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

The general consensus is that more people is better. More business. Economic growth. Housing starts.
I disagree. Whatever happened to the Zero Population Growth movement? Or at least direct the growth to areas that are not already hurting for water.

PitMix Feb 25, 2021 11:48 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

I get frequent invitations from Mr. Carbajal to attend award ceremonies. I wonder why he is not trying to address this national problem? Making individual cities spend significant amounts on homelessness is a crazy approach and hasn't helped as far as I can see.

Ahchooo Feb 25, 2021 12:02 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

That’s a good point. Cities and counties all over the nation are studying and planning and reassessing over and over again. A consolidated effort might result in overall better data and a clearer indication of what works where. Seems like we keep reinventing the wheel, but it never really rolls.

Lucky 777 Feb 25, 2021 10:07 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

CHILLINGRILLIN gets my vote for logic. Our climate attracts vagrants, and we should not be required to subsidize them. But Homeless, Inc. is thousands of local government workers, none of whom lost a day of work or wages in the pandemic. Building mental institutions, work houses and orphanages would be a better use of tax dollars than endless studies to discuss how to prop up the broken lives of meth addicts and drunks.

letmego Feb 25, 2021 12:08 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

I think at last count, something like 70% of SB's homeless are actually from here. Meaning they were living and working here before they became homeless. It's a valid idea to make each community "care for their own", but it's probably a better idea to attack the issue nationally.

a-1614278378 Feb 25, 2021 10:39 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

@LUCKY777: my word you're an angry one. What makes you think no government workers "lost a day of work or wages?" You clearly know no one in government. Hundreds were furloughed with no pay (I know a few) and many were simply laid off. Here, take a look for yourself: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/furloughs_to_bring_reduced_operations_at_santa_barbara_county_superior_cour ------ You're not the only one whose business and/or finances was hurt by the pandemic.

CoastWatch Feb 25, 2021 08:37 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Vagrants are on the street because they made life decisions to do Meth and Alcohol... Throwing money at housing programs, feeding and supplying bunks do nothing but provide opportunities for other vagrants from around the lower 48 to come to Santa Barbara. For at least the last 20 years, The City of Santa Barbara has been throwing a minimum of $1 Million a year to "Homeless Inc." and the situation hasn't changed other than more high paying government funded positions to support Homeless Inc. who NEED the "homeless" to stay here- There jobs DEPEND on it...

BigDD8 Feb 25, 2021 08:32 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

A suggestion about a very visible place to start with assistance and clean-up is the large, raised area that runs adjacent to the Garden Street exit from the #101. Can't believe I've missed that eyesore until this week. This is the "gateway" to Downtown Santa Barbara for drivers arriving from the south--what a sight! Tents, market carts, trash ... it's pretty shocking. Maybe it's not even an inhabited/active encampment, but has been abandoned. Either way, a black eye for our city, and certainly not a place to live.

a-1614270275 Feb 25, 2021 08:24 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Seems there's a choice between keeping Santa Barbara a small low-rise city where it’s a privilege and often a joy to live, the coastal plain bordered by mountains and ocean, OR, as the majority of highly-paid city staff and their allies on the planning commission want, build, build, build, destroying why many chose to live here.

Everyone who wants to live here can not do so; life is not fair in this capitalist society of ours and housing costs.

Chip of SB Feb 25, 2021 08:57 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

You can’t stop change and nothing lasts forever. I’m sure lots of farmers from decades past would be shocked and horrified to see all the developments built on their land. Similarly, many people will be shocked to see the growth that will come in the decades ahead. Santa Barbara will continue to become more dense and much taller in the years ahead.

Ahchooo Feb 25, 2021 08:53 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

I haven’t read the report yet, but I wonder if it sets a specific goal for how much subsidized and free housing we are to provide (a specific percentage). Are we expected to take on more than the average percentage of needy people? (And how would that be determined, when locations vary so much in their desirability.) There’s an incompatibility here with supply and demand. We have demand, but the people demanding the homes aren’t able to pay what capitalism says the product is worth.

Hokey-Pokey Feb 25, 2021 08:00 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Everywhere I've lived there homeless plan comes down to a version of this so how much $$$ did they spend to reinvent the obvious and why don't they collapse the 150 different 'helping' agencies and non profits into one stop shopping. None of this is rocket science.

If someone keeps refusing services why do we owe them the right to be a public health and safety hazard?

Chip of SB Feb 25, 2021 07:19 AM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

The photo of the man laid out by the wrong way sign perfectly illustrates the folly of this plan. His problem is obviously not that he is too poor to afford rent. Unless we address addiction and mental health, we will continue to see our “homeless” population grow. Unfortunately, this plan offers nothing but a load of fancy buzzwords and a focus on housing. We can keep pretending they are “homeless” but the reality is we will continue seeing more and more drug addicts on our streets until we come up with a plan to help them that actually addresses their problems.

A_Villegas_102 Feb 24, 2021 11:07 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Santa Barbara just needs to build more homes. Remove housing density restrictions and raise height limits in strategic areas, let the market build boring basic apartments, and watch as rents dive. This is so difficult because we're fools and created a home shortage.

ChillinGrillin Feb 24, 2021 10:26 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

Early modern England had surprisingly reasonable ways of dealing with the homeless. They sent them back to where they were raised, and that community was responsible for them. The only people getting aid were the “deserving poor” like the physically handicapped, orphans, and widows. This could be brutal in a time before people understood things like disabilities or mental illness. But it makes more sense than what we do now: leave many of those vulnerable populations living and dying in public. Or the other extreme: pay for their housing when some people can barely survive here with multiple jobs.

PitMix Feb 25, 2021 03:36 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

2:31, 40% were from other places. 20% moved to SB and then became homeless. Those are big numbers and cost a lot.
If you figure out our share of homeless by population, 1,500,000(max homeless)/340,000,000(total pop)x450000 (SB Co pop)=2000. So I guess we actually have about our share. If that 1.5M estimate is too high, the number (and cost) would go down to about 700 or so.

ConservativeSB Feb 25, 2021 04:02 PM
County Supervisors Move Forward with Plan to Address Homelessness

You're completely off your rocker if you look at photos of Community First Village in Austin and think "Gosh we need that in our town". Look at the pallet village that has been placed in IV and what has grown because of that.

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