Nearly 4% Decrease in Homelessness Countywide

By the County of Santa Barbara

Preliminary results of the 2023 Point in Time (PIT) Count of persons experiencing homelessness were released today. Conducted on January 25, 2023, by the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care (Continuum of Care), 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.

Countywide, 1,887 persons were counted representing a decrease of 3.7% in the number of persons experiencing homelessness.

The count includes 1,202 persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness and 685 persons living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

More than 77% of persons surveyed during the count reported losing housing while living in Santa Barbara County.








Total Persons Counted Experiencing Homelessness

















The County Board of Supervisors, Continuum of Care and cities adopted a Community Action Plan to Address Homelessness in 2021. The Community Action Plan outlines key strategies and action steps. Following adoption, 140 shelter beds and over 800 opportunities for permanent housing have been added to the homelessness response system. 1,050 persons transitioned out of homelessness into permanent housing despite soaring rents and an extremely low rental vacancy rate in 2022. This significant achievement was made possible through the collaborative efforts of dedicated service providers. The county has made significant investments in shelter, housing and services including resolving 154 encampments.

Contributing to this success was the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program. HUD provided a total of 272 long-term rental subsidy vouchers to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara. The two housing authorities worked with the Continuum of Care and the County of Santa Barbara to successfully lease up all vouchers ending homelessness for hundreds of local families and individuals. Local program implementation has received national recognition for the efficient utilization of this valuable permanent housing resource.

“The Emergency Housing Voucher Program is helping families enter housing and end their homelessness. This program has been instrumental in the County of Santa Barbara’s efforts to house vulnerable and chronically homeless residents across our communities. Largely as a result of prevention and housing efforts like vouchers, the 2023 Point in Time Count has shown a decrease in homelessness in the county,” said Continuum of Care Chairperson, Sylvia Barnard.

The table below provides total count data by city or area for the past three counts.


2023 Total

2022 Total

2020 Total









Santa Barbara




Isla Vista




Unincorporated South












Buellton/Solvang/Santa Ynez Valley




Santa Maria








Unincorporated North








This year’s point in time count identified the distribution of the population experiencing homelessness as 59% in south county (1,107 persons) and 41% in mid and north county (780 persons). The homeless population decreased over all, but increased in Carpinteria, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez Valley and Guadalupe.

Additional interim housing beds are under development. A public-private collaboration between Good Samaritan Shelters, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center, DignityMoves and the County of Santa Barbara will construct and open Hope Village, an interim supportive housing community later this year.  It will add 94 new non-congregate shelter rooms in Santa Maria. 

“Hope Village is a necessary and temporary first step in addressing the homeless problem in the Santa Maria Valley.  The services, sanctuaries, and security needed for the unhoused will be present each day to ensure they can overcome their individual issues and move forward as a member of our community,” said Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson.

The Continuum of Care and County of Santa Barbara recruited more than 400 volunteers to assist at 5:00 a.m. to canvas 89 census tracts across the county. The methodology is in alignment with national best practices, relies on geographic coverage, and has remained consistent since 2019. A mobile application from Simtech Solutions provided real-time data to logistics centers from volunteers out canvasing and counting.

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 and Administrative Entity for the Continuum of Care. The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care Board will receive the complete 2023 Point in Time Count report and presentation on May 4, 2023 at 2 p.m. via Zoom.

For additional details on the 2023 Point in Time report, contact Kimberlee Albers, Homeless Assistance Programs Manager at or (805) 695-6333.


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  1. Ah politicking rock throwing from the left abounds in these forums.
    Facts homelessness has hovered around the same number for years prior to COVID run up on rents.
    Real estate has always been expensive in costal communities. There are news letters from the late 1800s complaining about lack of & expensive housing.
    Those are distractions from addressing the issues. Homelessness is not a one-size fits all. With that said most of the chronic homeless have mental disabilities and or drug issues.
    There have been 5 “first time ever” initiatives since 1985 with county, city, hospital, first responders, stake holders, homeless involvement.
    All smoke & mirrors.
    The government refuses to actually address the humanitarian crisis.
    And these crisis seem to only be in blue states.
    Look it up.
    Numerous other states & countries have successfully addressed the crisis. But here they’d rather spend more money on “research” & writing action reports & doing things that make it appear the government is doing work when they’re really not. They shuffle the homeless like cattle. Yes cattle. That is how homeless are treated by our government.

  2. What a joke the headline.
    Homelessness is up over 10% over the last decade.
    Sensationalizing something that in reality is an upward trend over the decade.
    2013 PIT 1,466
    2017 PIT 1860
    2015 PIT 1455
    2023 PIT 1,887
    But hey whatever makes you feel good about seeing the homeless left to wander the streets looking for food, clothing, liquor, drugs.
    CA is the land of the free range homeless.
    Don’t touch em, don’t help em, don’t point them out, let them be in their natural environment to fend for themselves.
    Gotta love the “party of the people”
    See the trend, going up. See the trend, no progress from government to help the humanitarian crisis. Just finger pointing.
    And they celebrate a 4% reduction from last year.

    • CA is spending several BILLION dollars a year on homelessness… only for the problem to get worse. Unfortunately, they take the same approach they do with our public education system: poor results = it’s just needs more money! No, it couldn’t possibly HOW we’re doing things, no way, the problem is we need more money to do more of the same things (that aren’t working). Idiocracy at it’s finest.

    • GT whatabout whatabout whatabout, sorry Sacjon is slacking these days so I figured I’d jump in with his usual retort. I don’t know what red’s states spend or do to address this problem, but maybe we should look to them as and see what they’re doing, seeing as we have 50% of our nations homeless and on a state level, doesn’t show any signs of improving.

    • VOR – the what about came from you. We have a local article with a little glimmer of good news in it and you bring national politics into the matter and start slinging insults. The fact is the red states slurp up that federal money and taking that assistance – and then their repuglican citizens bitch about big government spending. Pack 40 million people in Mississippi and then tell me if they have a homeless problem. It isn’t rocket science. If Republican economic policies are so great for America – then how come 9 out of the 10 poorest states are red states?

    • Red states fall 1.5 percentage points below the national average for high school completion rate (84.2% vs. 85.7%), and 3.3 percentage points below the national average for college degree attainment (25.1% vs. 28.4%).
      Blue states, in comparison, perform slightly above the national averages—by 0.8 and 2 percentage points, respectively.

    • Maybe we could have used some of this money on the homeless situation in our country… GW and the repugs really wanted that war – so much so they invented the intelligence to justify it.
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – From an empowered Iran and eroded U.S. influence to the cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria to combat Islamic State fighters, the United States still contends with the consequences of invading Iraq 20 years ago, current and former officials say.
      Then-U.S. President George W. Bush’s 2003 decision to oust Saddam Hussein by force, the way limited U.S. troop numbers enabled ethnic strife and the eventual 2011 U.S. pullout have all greatly complicated U.S. policy in the Middle East, they said.
      The end of Saddam’s minority Sunni rule and replacement with a Shi’ite majority government in Iraq freed Iran to deepen its influence across the Levant, especially in Syria, where Iranian forces and Shi’ite militias helped Bashar al-Assad crush a Sunni uprising and stay in power.
      The 2011 withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq left a vacuum that Islamic State (ISIS) militants filled, seizing roughly a third of Iraq and Syria and fanning fears among Gulf Arab states that they could not rely on the United States.
      Having withdrawn, former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014 sent troops back to Iraq, where about 2,500 remain, and in 2015 he deployed to Syria, where about 900 troops are on the ground. U.S. forces in both countries combat Islamic State militants, who are also active from North Africa to Afghanistan.
      “Our inability, unwillingness, to put the hammer down in terms of security in the country allowed chaos to ensue, which gave rise to ISIS,” said former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, faulting the U.S. failure to secure Iraq.
      Armitage, who served under Republican Bush when the United States invaded Iraq, said the U.S. invasion “might be as big a strategic error” as Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, which helped bring about Germany’s World War Two defeat.
      The costs of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria are massive.
      According to estimates published this week by the “Costs of War” project at Brown University, the U.S. price tag to date for the wars in Iraq and Syria comes to $1.79 trillion, including Pentagon and State Department spending, veterans’ care and the interest on debt financing the conflicts. Including projected veterans’ care through 2050, this rises to $2.89 trillion.
      The project puts U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Syria over the past 20 years at 4,599 and estimates total deaths, including Iraqi and Syrian civilians, military, police, opposition fighters, media and others at 550,000 to 584,000. This includes only those killed as a direct result of war but not estimated indirect deaths from disease, displacement or starvation.
      U.S. credibility also suffered from Bush’s decision to invade based on bogus, exaggerated and ultimately erroneous intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
      John Bolton, a war advocate who served under Bush, said even though Washington made mistakes – by failing to deploy enough troops and administering Iraq instead of quickly handing over to Iraqis – he believed removing Saddam justified the costs.

    • GT, you okay? “We have a local article with a little glimmer of good news in it and you bring national politics into the matter and start slinging insults.” I mean, I can read, both the comments and the time stamps, so this comment is just more of your typical projecting. Seriously, the rant going back to GW and Iraq? Just ignore that it was a very bipartisan effort and I’ve made my anti-war feelings very clear here, and unlike you’re anti-war feelings, mine don’t change based on which party is in the white house.

    • No one’s upset about a reduction, easy to misinterpret comments. The real issue is that a purported reduction, while it’s sort of feel-good, can actually lead to bad actors and anti-homeless folks to lean on these stats as reasoning for decreasing assistance programs. I think it is important that the folks completing these counts include these comments in their results. A false count can have consequences. There is no easy answer.

    • The statement that “liberal leadership is not making MORE people homeless” is 100% true. 4% less than last year is 4% less. That means, in simple terms, extra easy for you to understand, there isn’t more homeless people in our county than last year. See how those easy words work?

    • The article says down 4% from last year, even after that decrease, it’s still up 28% over the past decade. Though, I might be missing something, it’s 4% down since last year, did SB County’s leadership just switch liberal last year, and they were conservative the 9 years before that? That would make your statement true.

    • “are there more or less homeless than decade ago?” whatabout whatabout whatabout? Answer the question that is RELEVANT to my comment – are there more or less homeless in SB County than last year?
      You can keep posting your own comments over and over again, but you’re DEFLECTING and ignoring the issue at hand that YOU brought up. Stop the cowardly backpedaling.

    • what about what about what about this exact same thing we’re talking about but over a decade vs. a year? Yeah, not whataboutism. Yes, it was reduced by 4% since last year, yes even after that 4% decrease it’s up 28% over the past decade, yes, SB has been under liberal leadership for the past decade. You need blinders on too look at that information call it a succus for SB’s liberal leadership. That also ignores the possibility that the drop is due to drug abuse and OD’s, both of which are up over prior years. The PIT count isn’t able to pick up people who have passed due to addiction or are too drugged out to emerge from the bushes and be counted. Apparently we also had this super deadly pandemic going on that should have run a deadly rampage through encampments without hand washing, masks, basic hygiene, and a people general adverse to healthcare and vaccinations.

    • Shall I quote my comment below that you failed to read and answered your question? “Yes, it was reduced by 4% since last year, yes even after that 4% decrease it’s up 28% over the past decade, yes, SB has been under liberal leadership for the past decade. You need blinders on too look at that information call it a succus for SB’s liberal leadership. ”

    • You guys crack me up. VOR, we don’t live in a bubble. “Liberal leadership” right now is now the same liberal leadership as a decade ago. The county isn’t the same as a decade ago. The state isn’t the same as a decade ago. The laws on ADUs, the amount of money going to homeless outreach programs (and which programs), the various types of help that is out there and methods that are being used…aren’t the same as a decade ago.
      They change all the time. Now, is our reduced homeless population due to the pandemic? Due to deaths? People giving up and moving out of county/state? Some magical combination of new types of outreach? I dunno.

  3. Of those 1,800+ homeless in our County, I wonder how many just need financial help to get back on their feet? How are we bailing out corrupt corporations and not bailing out human beings? For those who are unable to work due to mental illness, have advocates approached them and offered help? Just seems for such an affluent community, we shouldn’t have this many of our residents living like this.

    • Financial help might not be helpful to the ones you see on the street, who typically who have the most substance abuse and mental health issues and are often resistant to outreach. The ones you don’t see are the otherwise functional people who are temporarily down and out, living in their cars or couch surfing. They are the ones who would and often do respond well to financial help and land back on their feet.

    • SBTONER – What a cold and heartless and WRONG thing to say. Did you even read my “proposal?” Dude, you are the antithesis of what a “sb stoner” would be, you poser.
      No, I said give those who are homeless due to financial reasons (lost a job, etc) a little help so they can get back on their feet and start working again and becoming functioning members of our community again. I’m not saying we should give money to the lazy stoner kids….. you know, like you pretend to be.

    • “I wonder how many just need financial help to get back on their feet?”… For those who are unable to work due to mental illness, have advocates approached them and offered help? – what I actually said. Using the English language, that implies me being curious if those who just need a little help to secure housing and a steady job would benefit from some assistance. The second sentence suggests those “who are unable to contribute to society” (your words), because they are “unable to work due to mental illness” would need advocacy and other forms of help. I distinguished between the two groups.
      English can be tricky, best you work on it a little more.

    • STONER – lol whatever man.
      “The “them” you talk about are the homeless” – The “them” YOU talk about are all of the homeless. Read my words again, more slowly and maybe clear headed this time.
      “have advocates approach those who are too violent and intrusive to not be labeled as criminals.” – never said that. Again, you’re making things up and twisting my very clear words.
      “How about this. Pick up the people who need to be institutionalized ” – Great suggestion. Please direct yourself the the Constitution of the United States for help on that one.
      Here’s a tip, Shakespeare: Read words for their meaning. Don’t take simple statements and then add words/context/tone to support YOUR interpretation.
      Sorry, can’t help you much more than that, kiddo. You’re going to have to do better.

    • Sac – All over the place as usual. The “them” you talk about are the homeless. I’m voicing that not a single additional dollar should be or needs to be spent on the issue of homelessness that has already cost us million$.
      By your own writing, you explicitly “propose” that we provide financial help to those “who just need a little” and have advocates approach those who are too violent and intrusive to not be labeled as criminals.
      How about this. Pick up the people who need to be institutionalized and advocate for them when they are safely removed from the public. Then we can go back to enjoying benches, parks, and the rest of the city we pay taxes to live in.
      You should work on your literation before claiming other people don’t have (very basic) comprehension capabilities. Not that you would ever be able to realize that you’re the one who’s lacking.

    • SBSTONER – well, shouldn’t we? You said UNABLE to contribute to society. Generally, for people who are unable to contribute – spending MORE money on the right programs saves money in the long run. (Like, housing is cheaper than repeat arrests, police response, emergency room visits.)

  4. Another big win is the 101 shoulder revitalization, I applaud the work that Caltrans has done to clean up and heavy pruning of trees and shrubs along the shoulders of the 101 through town. It looks so much nicer than the overgrown jungles of the past that also turned into some encampments. Let’s hope that this also saves lives and keeps pedestrians from getting hit on the highway as we have seen.

  5. Hatsoff2ya
    I’m glad you are still around to give us your opinion.
    What do you personally need most? Free housing? If you have a substance use problem would rehab help or is it been there done that…. or maybe its something else? Help us understand how you got where you are and how it could have gone better for you?

  6. As predicted, the state isn’t going to change how they’re tackling homelessness, they’re just going to throw more money at it – the CA way! Over $15B over the next three years which Gavin says will reduce homelessness by a whopping 15%. I guess that’s a more realistic goal then when he said he would “solve” homelessness in 10 years…. back in 2003, then again in 2008 when he had a new plan that would do it. But after all those failed promises/plans, he somehow go elected to higher office (failing up again) and NOW has a plan, that will cost considerably more than his prior failed plans while providing less of an anticipated reduction in homelessness. The grift is strong with this one and for some reason the people keep buying it.

  7. The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission needs five volunteers every night to serve meals to the homeless. You can be a talker or a doer. Here’s where you can sign up.
    It doesn’t matter what you think about the mission of the Rescue Mission, it’s about helping those in need. You can be the person who puts a plate of hot food in the hands of someone who might not have had any food all day.

  8. Sacjon have you never looked at a ten year graph chart with a trend line? That is a “big picture” chart. The big picture chart shows homelessness is still up 28% over the decade. Small picture within that chart is a very welcome drop of 4%. Hopefully the drop continues downward, but one or two drops does not make a trend.
    On the counted numbers, The homeless population is acknowledged as containing “transients” when defined as follows: a person who is staying or working in a place for only a short time. Some homeless move on to different cities which is nice for Santa Barbara, which just decreases local numbers not statewide homelessness (I am assuming you care for all homeless regardless to where they bed down for the night). They are transient because they move from one encampment to another, or they may move off and start their own, they go to jail, they die younger than the rest of the population. In other words, by their nature, they can be hard to count, and when the County gives exact numbers we should realize they are counting a very fluid population. Another statistic that is muddled is who was a Santa Barbara resident and can actually be counted as someone who can’t afford rent. It is not reasonable to calculate in a person that came here already addicted, unemployable, penniless from affordable San Bernardino or Tulsa, Oklahoma to expensive Santa Barbara. That would be a series poor choices, ones we want to help with, but we don’t “owe” that person a lifetime of free apartment, free food, free drugs, free needles. Very liberal people tend to get upset if we ask the homeless where they attended elementary school, Jr High, High School, what year did you move here, from where where did you used to work here in Santa Barbara. Because those questions are not asked, we cannot determine who really was here and fell out due to high rent, from those who made a poor relocation choice.
    Some homeless are very very hard to help. For example a guy I saw near a jobsite with a portable toilet staggered out of the bushes 7AM 10 yards from the toilet, dropped his pants in front of us, dropped a messy one and staggered back into the bushes. On another site guys working there said they had let people in the encampment use the toilet but the homeless pooped straight on the floor and in the urinal, clogging it and making the floor inside too filthy to walk into, so they had to lock it.
    That behavior can’t be fixed with cheaper rent. That needs drug and alcohol abstinence, rehab, life coaching, a job, supervision at the job, financial assistance, ongoing financial counseling and oversight, a free place to live until financially stable, ongoing drug and alcohol testing

  9. I think people fail up in both parties because people are too invested in their ideology to take a cold hard look at results. Let take Trump. Events in Ukraine Europe show us Trump was right to push Europe to wean itself off of Russian energy and to contribute more to their defense budgets. But Trumps style is confrontational and abrasive, it didn’t happen. Trumps ego is huge and also hugely misguided and that poisoned relationship, citizens, and that is just covering his personality not his politics. I’ll go to Newsom’s politics because he is more personable than Trump. Newsom has repeatedly failed on homelessness, just look at the trend chart when he was in SF, look at the trend chart in CA while he has been Governor. Now put aside excuses and tortuous explanations and be honest and say Newsom hasn’t done well on the homeless issue and has made some mistakes on some policies that didn’t pan out. Newsom hasn’t always led well on the issue. For example when Eric Garcetti, former LA mayor sunk $650,000 per unit on 1 bedroom housing, Newsom should have spoken up and led, saying “spending like that is not going to get this problem solved and we can’t give you money no strings attached if you are going to spend it like this”. I realize people try not to criticize people of their own party in public, but since the state of CA is predominately run by Democrats, he has to critique his own or he starts to own their behavior

  10. 10 yr trend. Homelessness up 28%
    SB City alone has spent in excess of $100,000,000 on homelessness over that period.
    Five “first time ever” county, City, stakeholder, first responder initiatives.
    You gotta ask why they keep doing the same thing.
    Because they haven’t got caught laundering the money yet. Corruption.
    The “party of the people” only if you’re a “good old boy”.

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