Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

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Source: Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara

When winter weather strikes, conditions become life-threatening for those living on the streets, or other places unfit for human habitation. Luckily, Freedom Warming Centers (FWC), a grassroots partnership between nonprofits and faith communities, provide temporary “pop-up” shelter for the County’s people living without homes during dangerously cold or damp weather conditions. All winter long FWC gives people safe shelter in a storm. Now, the community can help give back to FWC financially, so organization can continue to focus on their mission of giving shelter to those in need on cold, wet nights.

That’s where the Warm-Up Campaign comes in: the Freedom Warming Center (FWC) is looking for the public’s help to raise funds on Crowd Rise. Every $100 raised will support one individuals’ nightly warmth, safety, and vitality during the entire cold season. The fundraising is in preparation to raise funds for the FWC’s 2019-2020 winter activation season, and goes towards sheltering over 1,000 homeless individuals across its 12 sites in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Carpinteria, Isla Vista, and Lompoc.

The FWCs are a low-barrier service providing shelter to all in need of sanctuary on cold nights. Guests can arrive at any hour of the evening, between 6am-6pm for rest, and pets are welcome.

“This is where homeless individuals would not find someone with a clipboard standing at the door asking if they’d stopped drinking yet. Instead if someone is hungry, they feed him; if they are cold, they give them a warm place to sleep.  Kindness is measured one person at a time,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Assistant Director of California Department of Public Health.

In 2009, moved by the tragic death of a Santa Barbara homeless man who his friends called “Freedom,” a group of homeless advocates, faith community, and others began working on solutions that would reduce or eliminate the chances of anyone dying from winter conditions in Santa Barbara County.  From those meetings, the Freedom Warming Centers was launched.  

Freedom Warming Centers is the only program providing countywide warming center services and can be a gateway for homeless individuals seeking recovery and/or housing services and other resources. Individuals who access warming center service have fewer emergency room visits and less likely to be housed in jails. When activated countywide, the Freedom Warming Centers serve approximately 200 individuals a night, and over 1,000 unduplicated individuals per season.

“Supporting the Freedom Warming Centers is necessary; it is who we are as a congregation and as individuals,” said Reverend Julia Hamilton, Lead Minister at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.

FWC is gearing up for the cold and rainy season and needs everyone’s support to provide safety and sanctuary to the most vulnerable people in the County. Funds raised during the Warm-Up Campaign will go towards staffing FWC’s countywide sites, and the necessary mats, blankets, and meals for the nightly guests. Businesses, families, schools and other organizations are encouraged to donate to the Warm-Up campaign and getting involved is a great way to assist people experiencing homelessness directly.

The Freedom Warming Center is a designated 501c3 and donations are tax-deductible. The Warming Center’s work is made possible without help from our community partners, including: Trinity Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Carpinteria Community Church, First Congregational Church, City of Carpinteria, Peace Lutheran Church, Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Salvation Army, Doctors Without Walls, and many more.

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SBLetsGetAlong Nov 04, 2019 11:47 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

The Reagan era was 40 years ago, stop complaining and blaming. The State should step in, CA has the largest economy in the US. When will CA start taking responsibility for its people? How many, what percent of the homeless are those that cannot truly help themselves? Let’s help them. Those that make bad life choices should not be enabled. And they should not be allowed to degrade everyone’s life around them. we have lost many of our parks by the waterfront and downtown to homeless. Homeless are not the best “house guests”. They leave trash, feces, drug paraphernalia everywhere and some are not nice to those around them. Some are down right scary. They lay in store fronts and walkways with ”no where” to go. As to how expensive SB is, all coastal cities are expensive. Most rational people move to where they can get a job and afford accommodations. What I don’t understand is why minimum wage is the same here as in less expensive areas? Why is a McDonalds hamburger the same price everywhere? If it’s more expensive here, charge more for the burger and pay your employees better. Let’s help people earn a living wage and not argue about how expensive property is here. Or let all the workers who can’t afford to live here move and watch people make adjustments when they can’t get someone to make their Starbucks or cook their McDonalds. The people we need to really help are first responders and school teachers. The City/County needs to help them live here. Twice in the last decade the 101S was closed. La Conchita slide and the Debris Flow. We need these men & women here in our town, not living somewhere else.

RHS Nov 04, 2019 08:54 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Helping the needy does not threaten the more affluent as so many of these negative and hostile commentators seem to think. There is more than enough excess to share it with the small number of those without basic resources. The idea that each and every needy person needs to be identified, vetted, proved as "worthy" is just an excuse not to share and an attempt to assuage guilt for that lack of empathy.

jqb Nov 04, 2019 10:08 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

It's less about thinking that the affluent are threatened than it is about punishing the poor and the "other". For "negative and hostile", substitute "sociopathic". Lack of empathy indeed, but they don't feel guilt or shame.

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 07:47 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Let’s care for those citizens who can’t help themselves, & those who served our country: foster & trafficked kids , vets, seniors older than 90 who can’t work, I’m being taxed and fee’ed into homelessness.

PitMix Nov 04, 2019 01:35 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Rinconer, you are talking about discretionary spending, right? I am am talking total budget. I got my numbers from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. I believe they are accurate.

PitMix Nov 04, 2019 09:22 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Since about 15 percent of the federal budget goes to defense, and another 7% goes to paying off the interest on the debt, maybe the feds could lighten your load by balancing the budget and also spending less than the next 7 top defense spenders combined. Would that make you feel better?

helena Nov 04, 2019 07:45 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

"Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" Thank you to the Freedom Warming Centers for helping to protect those in need--and their critters. Don't be so quick to pull up the ladder, folks--you may need it yourself someday.

biguglystick Nov 04, 2019 10:35 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

With big tech moving into Santa Barbara and rents already soaring, any one of us who doesn't own a home could be homeless soon. It's such a sad desperate horrible situation. Native Californians being priced OUT of our own homeland. I feel for the homeless, because I am near that line all the time, and it's scary.

Longing2bhome Nov 04, 2019 04:27 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Since you asked I am happy to answer you. My God says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. FYI, I am not preaching, I am sharing the Good News.

PitMix Nov 04, 2019 01:37 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Those people that refer to God the Punisher seem to be relying on the old testament. I believe most Christians think of themselves as new testamentors. If we are following the old testament, we'd better build up our supply of stones.

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 10:23 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

FACTOTUM - the Bible says a lot more than that, don't preach please. What about the people who are mentally unable to work? Out on the street with debilitating mental issues, should they not be able to eat because they can't work? What does your God say about that?

Factotum Nov 04, 2019 10:00 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Bible says if you don't work, you don't eat. Good advice. Stop enabling grifters and con artists. It only keeps them from finding their own noble callings - self-sufficiency. Anyone living "one paycheck from homelessness" is living in the wrong location and has refused to put together a far better skills package for themselves. SBCC stands ready to offer anyone new and sustainable skills - non-credit or not. Illegal camping and stacking at our expense is a choice this community no longer tolerates.

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 07:17 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Create campgrounds, tent cities, with sanitary facilities and P.O. Boxes far from the general population for those choosing to not seek work, not to integrate into cultural social norms, or to remain drugged. Build a huge lot like at the Elks Club for those w Vehicles - charge $400 of their $1000 soc security check for a monthly Permanent Safe space. When City and County stop wastIng multi-millions of tax monitoring ‘homeless’, I’ll contribute to permanent campsites in East County. Church leaders lean on cities and counties, politicos, to do their jobs. Sermon Sunday’s to vote out DCC backed politicos for independent leaders. Demand solutions!

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 11:22 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

@7:17am - these "campgrounds" you propose - would they be required to live there? What if they chose not to? Would they have transportation options to get into town to seek work?

LCP112233 Nov 04, 2019 10:59 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Christinas. It may be "near impossible" for some people. But it is quite easy for the network of fraudulent cases. My friend has muscular dystrophy. We were laid off from a job she worked at for 25 years. Had to get SSD until she found another job. Others in the waiting area were sharing their stories of how they fake mental illness in order to get SSD. It made her sick, and me as well after hearing about it.

biguglystick Nov 04, 2019 10:37 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Honestly, I have a friend who has cancer and massive bi-polar depression and dehabilitating anziety disorders. She had to get social services to make ends meet and they DO NOT make it easy. It's dehumanizing and a hassle and a giant bummer. You have to really work at getting aid for food and housing. It's not easy at all.

PitMix Nov 04, 2019 09:16 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

The number of people receiving SSI disability has increased from 6,201,000 in 2004 to 8,537,000 in 2017. Doesn't look like it is that difficult to get it based on those numbers.

Roger Nov 03, 2019 04:45 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Usually the people who stay in the warming centers are not the trouble makers they don't last because the churches will not put up with that nor will the shelters. You have to behave yourself to stay in those places.. As far as paying taxes we all had to do it at one time or another and the homeless is not the only thing taxpayers pay for.

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 07:23 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Yeah Roger. Time for everyone to stop paying CA tax . Politicians can’t waste our earned dollars not given. Churches are enablers. Open dozens of day labor centers.

a-1594039464 Nov 03, 2019 01:11 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

All of these churches are loaded with money, and more importantly, volunteers. Why don't they provide support all year long? That's the right thing to do. It's plenty cold and quite dangerous to be living on our streets at any time of year. Of course it's even more difficult when it's raining/freezing, but c'mon, why just do this for such a short period of time? Does not make sense. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it "right"....not such a half-measure as this. Possibly this is "just enough" to relieve the guilt in my opinion.

biguglystick Nov 04, 2019 10:50 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Trinity Episcopal is the BEST church. They do such good work. And yes, I saw how that did affect the neighborhood. But what do we do? Honestly? Keep bussing them away and shut our eyes to it? Pretend it isn't real? There is no easy solution.

PitMix Nov 04, 2019 09:18 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Why would you provide a temporary shelter for people in good weather? Churches are not designed as permanent living spaces. Your conclusion does not seem internally consistent.

Ahchooo Nov 03, 2019 04:43 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

I think the “just enough” level of generosity is a good compromise. It keeps people from freezing to death, but doesn’t attract freeloaders from far and wide.

a-1594039464 Nov 03, 2019 03:05 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

I agree with A-1572822045. Why do so many people feel it is everyone's responsibility to help the homeless? I work hard for my money. I have bills to pay. A roof to keep over my head. A car to take me to work. Insurance costs. Food expenses (and that does not include eating out). I do everything I can to prevent MYSELF from being homeless - why is it my responsibility to help those who are? Many have been offered housing, but they refuse it. I have offered to hire people at off-ramps who have signs that say "Will work for food". They admit they don't want to work and not one has ever taken me up on the offer. I have better charities to donate to than the homeless on the streets where I work to remain housed.

Factotum Nov 03, 2019 02:36 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Trinity Episcopal tried to provide on-going day time care. They bailed very quickly and just about destroyed the surrounding neighborhood which got overrun. I believe they said something about the demands of this group exceeded their charitable resources.

mattyboy Nov 03, 2019 01:30 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

1:11PM, please list all your charitable giving & volunteering time, so we can judge the integrity of your soapbox. How many homeless are you caring for in your home and/or business?

Flicka Nov 03, 2019 11:29 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

MIDAIR, How right you are, thanks! Doesn't matter what anyone thinks of the street people the idea of not caring if they freeze to death is about as uncharitable and cold as a person can get. Everyone on earth has a back story; who knows why a person is living the way we can't even relate to. Compassion goes a long way.

LCP112233 Nov 04, 2019 11:07 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

@7:34 am. Because many would not work and don't want to. And it would have to be mandated that drug use will not be tolerated.

biguglystick Nov 04, 2019 10:41 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

That's not a bad idea at all, but we have to accept the fact that many people on the streets are simply not able to work for myriad reasons. Reagan dropping the mental health options in this state really sent us into a tailspin. We need mental health care for all.

a-1594039464 Nov 04, 2019 07:34 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Back stories, unlimited compassion, guilt, whatever. Every American citizen needs to be safe, warm, cool, fed and contribute according to their ability by working. How ‘bout a mega- statewide homeless work program in exchange for space with toilets and showers.

a-1594039464 Nov 03, 2019 10:51 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

Why roll out the red carpet and expect the population of homeless to not grow? There are plenty of worthy disabled vets and kids who are 100% innocent who need help. As for these druggies?

CoralineJones Nov 06, 2019 10:51 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

BIGUGLYSTICK what we do NOT do with the grifters/drug addicts, etc. is enable them and make it easy and comfortable for them to continue down that road. Same as you would with a family member or friend. Enabling only worsens and lengthens the problem.

biguglystick Nov 04, 2019 10:46 AM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

The reason most homeless people come to this state is for the mild weather, Einstein, it's not because we 'roll out the red carpet'. Who wants to freeze to death in snow and ice under a bridge somewhere. It's simple, really. They are always going to come to warmer climates. The trick is social services to get those who need help off the streets. Give them a leg up, medications, halfway housing until they can stand on their own. The rest are mentally ill, riddled with drugs, abused, what have you. What do we do with them? Feed them to the lions in a stadium?

a-1594039464 Nov 03, 2019 07:11 PM
Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter

They’re occupying a building in some of the most expensive real estate in the world. It could be the red carpet if it were being put to its highest and best use. Instead it’s for do-gooders who - how’s this- “put out the welcome mat” to homeless. Did you know that California has 25% of America’s homeless population? Think they’ve got warning shelter set up for them in normal states? Nope- cheaper to send them on a gray hound to Santa Barbara. And to be honest 99% of the homeless I see either belong in an institution or in jail. Most are finding Sufficient cash for drugs that’s for sure. And we also have our beloved methadone clinic above upper state- that acts as an artificial reef for heroin addicts. Just what we need more of in Santa Barbara.

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