Source: Heal the Ocean
Earlier this week, on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, the City of Santa Barbara’s COVID-19 Homeless Task Force received Heal the Ocean’s recent survey findings on homeless encampments with a comparison of conditions documented by HTO in February 2021.
The survey was conducted by HTO Field Advisor Harry Rabin and his company On the Wave Productions, LLC., which has been monitoring homeless camps on the South Coast for over two years. For this most recent survey, Harry used a team that began its walking surveys from both ends – Goleta and Summerland – to collect images by drones and actual visits to campsites.
The survey has produced a GPS interactive map that can be examined for actual campsites.
Survey aerial from Google Earth. Image by On the Wave Productions.
In his report to the COVID-19 Task Force, Rabin gave a comparison between his survey and that of February 2021 to lend a perspective of current homeless activity;
- The number of active homeless encampments has declined: In February 2021, there were 102 camps; Today (August 2021), that number has decreased to 55;
- The estimated population of individuals without housing is also declining – February 2021: 260-320; August 2021: 125;
- Around 67 homeless encampments have been cleaned up or removed since February 2021;
- Levels of trash, refuse, and contamination has decreased substantially since February 2021.
Homeless encampments encountered during the survey in August 2021. (Photos by On the Wave Productions.)
In his reporting of findings, Harry speculated that Cal Trans freeway widening removed many camps, but other than some shelters being established, the shift in the population remains to be examined.
Harry’s survey also located 29 abandoned encampments that need to be removed from sensitive areas. For this work, Heal the Ocean has hired Andrew V. of Earthcomb to gather abandoned materials for pickup by MarBorg and other trash haulers, an operation that HTO is funding. Andrew has already cleaned up 3 homeless encampments in the North Fairview area of Goleta.
Harry’s ongoing surveys are useful for City and County officials to determine which programs and practices are working to solve the homeless problem in the community.
Additionally, Rabin’s company, On the Wave Productions, recently produced a documentary on the Isla Vista Pescadero Loft shelter for the homeless. The film, written and directed by Joey Szalkiewicz, demonstrates how permanent housing developments such as this successful charter project in Isla Vista provide homeless individuals with long-term stability and resources to thrive as community members.
The Santa Barbara COVID-19 Homeless Task Force will be presenting the HTO survey results to the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, during its regularly scheduled Board meeting. On that day, you can click here to tune in and watch.
Heal the Ocean has been actively involved in cleaning up abandoned homeless camps in environmentally sensitive areas because the camps often contain trash and human waste that threaten the ocean environment.
Click here for the form to report an encampment.
Abandoned camps can also be reported to Heal the Ocean for cleanup.