Upper State Street Motel May Rent All Rooms to Homeless

This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.

By Nick Welsh of The Independent

Jeff Shaffer has spent the better part of the last 20 years pushing boulders uphill. Sometimes, they’ve chased him back down again. 

In various organizational and spiritual incarnations, Shaffer has emerged as the closest thing to a homeless whisperer that the South Coast has. It’s not nearly enough to find housing for those without homes, he’s discovered. Even more care must be taken to ensure that those used to sleeping on the streets can adjust to sleeping between sheets. It’s a formidable task. Not surprisingly, he’s learned to calibrate his enthusiasm with care and precision. 

Yet now — as Santa Barbara’s delicate ecosystem of tolerance where the homeless are concerned is experiencing yet another quantum shift — Shaffer is uncharacteristically optimistic. “The universe is on our side,” he said at the tail end of a short interview this Friday. A former class clown, Shaffer had once harbored ambitions of becoming a professional comedy writer. Even he had to laugh at how improbable that statement sounded.

As is always the case when the issue is homelessness, the picture is very complicated and very contradictory. This week, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the state’s emergency restrictions on COVID. This, in turn, freed up local governments to take whatever steps they deemed desirable or necessary to deal with the proliferation of homeless encampments — both in plain sight or off the beaten path. During the prior 18 months, their hands had been tied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued strong recommendations that homeless camps were to be left alone because of public health considerations.

Santa Barbara’s City Hall responded to the shift by launching a muted crackdown on homeless encampments, particularly those located in what are deemed fire prone areas. Last Friday, city police notified the growing number of tent dwellers that have been occupying Alameda Park that they needed to pull up stakes and move elsewhere. Exactly where they might go, not even Shaffer pretended to have a clue.  

More than that, this week saw the launch of a joint enforcement action by the Santa Barbara Police Department, the city’s Environmental Services Division, Amtrak police, and Union Pacific police, who targeted encampments along the railroad tracks running from Castillo Street to Channel Drive. When they were done, 15 citations were issued — mostly for trespassing but a few for narcotics violations as well. 

According to a press statement issued by the Police Department, all the urban campers the officers encountered “complied with the Officers and packed up their belongings and left.” In addition, the statement read, “Backhoes were used to collect nearly 5,500 pounds of remaining trash and debris.” Multiple trailers were required to haul it all away.

The view of the Loma Fire from the Ortega Street footbridge around 10:15 p.m. on May 20. | Credit: Tayden Tomblin

Far more dramatic, this coming Tuesday the City Council will likely approve plans to lease for the next four months all 32 rooms of the Rose Garden Inn on upper State Street to provide emergency lodging, food, transportation, and services for as many as 50 people now living on the streets. Driving this emergency action — which is budgeted to cost City Hall between $1.6 million to $2 million — is a well-founded fire phobia as Santa Barbara’s drought-desiccated brush is reportedly two months ahead of schedule when it comes to being parched and dried out. 

Sparking the action was the Loma Fire six weeks ago that might have taken out much of the Mesa but for the miraculous and instantaneous intervention by no less than four fire agencies who managed to get the upper hand on a blaze fueled by 55 mile an hour winds. That fire, it should be noted, did not start at a homeless encampment. It was an arson fire, reportedly set by a homeless person on methamphetamine at the time. But in the month of May, city firefighters report, 18 smaller fires originated in homeless encampments. 

The Rose Garden Inn, according to persistent but officially unconfirmed reports, enjoys a reputation as a flea bag. Yelp reviews have been scathing in the extreme and include references to dirty soap bars in the bathroom, lukewarm water in the showers, chipped paint, no towels, and loud guests dumpster diving for their dinners. Each such review is typically followed by an apology by the motel management that the accommodations did not meet guests’ expectations and that they will endeavor to do better. The good news is that the room rates are cheap by Santa Barbara standards, about $109 a night.

All that, it would seem, makes this proposed site an ideal location, however perversely. For starters, neighbors will experience no jarring change of clientele. If anything, it will be better managed. CityNet, which is securing the master lease with city funds, will spend $181,000 on “24/7 guard coverage,” not to mention a shuttle driver to transport guests to and fro. 

The actual cost for the motel rooms — accompanied by computer stations, a bed bug hot box, chairs, and picnic tables — is budgeted at $677,000. Food and laundry is another $282,000. As for management, that’s budgeted at $455,000. That includes case management and a host of “wrap-around services” said to include mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, and the help needed to prepare the guests’ papers and documents, like driver licenses, Social Security cards, and Medicare records.

All that, the council has been told, is necessary to help get people who’ve grown used to living a feral lifestyle equipped to make the leap to permanent or transitional housing. None of that, however, is cheap. With all these bells and whistles, the nightly cost per guest will jump from $109 to $266. But compared to the political blowback that Plan B would engender — creating a tent city at the commuter parking lot by Castillo and Carrillo streets ― it’s cheap. More than that, it’s doable. 

Based on City Hall’s predictions, the Rose Garden Inn meets the estimated needs. According to Fire Marshal Joe Poire, there are roughly 50 individuals now living in the most fire-prone camps. Six of these camps have already been targeted for “abatement,” a bureaucratically gentler term than eradication and elimination. 

Joe Doherty, a civil rights attorney with the People’s Justice Project, worries about the number of unanswered questions that remain. How will people living in the urban brush be notified that they are dwelling in “fire prone” encampments, he asked? How will they learn where they can and cannot live? Are there maps? What rules must they abide by? Who will track who gets evicted and for what reasons? Will residents at the motel be free to come and go? If not, will they be under the effective equivalent of house arrest? And what happens to the tents, sleeping bags, and other personal belongings of the guests?

All this is happening under the unspoken rules governing how Santa Barbara’s housed populations co-exist with its unhoused. With the lifting of the pandemic’s emergency restrictions, more people are coming downtown. More people are interacting with the homeless. More homeless are interacting with them. A 60-year-old homeless man and a long-term veteran of Santa Barbara’s streets recently found himself rousted from a public sleeping spot he’d come to enjoy during the pandemic. When told he had to go, he got upset and pulled out a pair of scissors. Cops got called. No one got hurt, but it took a while for things to settle down. 

As the parks are cleared and the encampments too, it’s doubtful the 50 motel rooms will be enough to accommodate those dispersed. The good news, according to Jeff Shaffer is that thanks to a dramatic influx of federal and state funds for homeless housing assistance, there will be far more housing vouchers available for those making the transition from the streets. 

For the past 10 years, Shaffer and his organization have run what’s now called a “neighborhood navigation center” every Thursday at Alameda Park that provides a wide range of services — food, medical care, pet care, portable showers, and the reliable expectation of companionship under safe conditions. During COVID, those Thursday evening gatherings still took place, but under greater circumscribed conditions. People stood in line for food; they didn’t eat together. Social distancing was observed. This past Thursday — one day before the police cleared the tents out of the park — Shaffer expressed relief people could eat together for the first time. “We got to sit down for an actual meal,” he exclaimed. Forty-four guests, he said, showed up; 25 volunteers did too. 

Shaffer is hoping to establish such centers throughout the entire city so that no one neighborhood has reason to feel it’s absorbing the brunt of what’s clearly a national and statewide problem. At such centers, he contends, trust can be established between those who mean well and those who have learned the hard way that meaning well is not enough. It is through such interactions, repeated week after week, that people on the street learn to take the first step to something different, he said.

Shaffer is one of the cofounders of SBACT, a relatively recent organizational acronym to emerge in Santa Barbara’s age-old struggle with homelessness, and SBACT (S.B. Alliance for Community Transformation) has emerged as a de facto extension of City Hall, one of the organization’s key financial benefactors. Two weeks ago, the council voted to give SBACT $150,000 to start a new neighborhood navigation center at the parking lot by Castillo and Carrillo. That will fund an ongoing operation one day a week for three hours a day. 

Given how vociferously residents living near that commuter lot have recoiled against previous efforts to create a “tiny home” homeless village there, Shaffer knows he’s treading on thin ice. Before launching any new program on the site, he stressed, he’d be meeting with the neighbors to hear their concerns and presumably to address them as well.  

As Santa Barbara returns to so-called “normal,” the downtown library will reopen to the public. When that happens, many people who have long lived out-of-doors will seek refuge in the library’s stacks, as they have done before. In anticipation of the friction that will likely ensue, the City Council voted to spend $100,000 to hire a social worker to address the needs of the homeless bibliophiles eager to reoccupy their old digs. 

In the meantime, Shaffer noted, a private nonprofit known as Dignity Moves — made up of members who became CEOs of their respective business operations by the time they turned 40 — is moving ahead with plans to open a new homeless village of 30 to 35 tiny homes on government-owned property located on Garden Street. 

In this case, Shaffer said, the tiny homes are being designed by a well-known architect and will fit into Santa Barbara’s red-tiled architectural tradition. More to the point, he added, they will provide transitional housing for people getting off the street for as long as three years. Shaffer said the new units might be operational sometime this fall, maybe as soon as October. 

As all this happens, the council — bombarded by business leaders complaining about out-of-control homeless behavior ― has also been moving in the other direction. Two weeks ago, for example, the council passed an ordinance prohibiting anyone from sitting or lying on certain blocks of Milpas Street. Although the law applies to all residents, it’s clearly aimed at the homeless. This measure mirrors a similar ordinance the council passed to restrict such behavior on State Street. Or the one the council passed to rein in the use of shopping carts.

For Shaffer, it’s been a long-distance sprint with no real finish line. But at the moment, there’s more wind at his back than in his face. “The universe,” he chuckled again, “is on our side.”


Written by Nick Welsh

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  1. This will be a great addition to San Roque. I especially love how my Megan’s Law app regularly alerts me to the new sex offenders that move into the Orange Tree homeless hotel a bit down the street. At least maybe the traffic at Chik Fil A might go down when people get tired of being panhandled while blocking State to get their greasy chicken.

  2. So great of the City to spend our local tax dollars on this national problem. If it is a local problem, then help the homeless that came from here, and send the rest back to their hometowns so they can get assistance there. Where are our national politicians and what are they doing to help clean up this mess?

  3. Wow, this was not an exaggeration. I just mapped it and a registered sex offender IS living at the Orange Tree Inn as part of this program. He is also listed as in violation of the terms of his release – not sure. For those wondering, he was convicted of sex crimes against a child. So we’re paying to house this guy while the rest of us get up every day to go to work to pay our rent or mortgage and our property taxes? Makes me sick.

  4. Sorry meant to say not sure what his violation is. Either way, disgusting and unbelievable the tax payers are footing the bill to house sex offenders in one of the most expensive and in-demand real estate markets on earth.

  5. From the link MARCELK shared:
    How do people become homeless?
    Top reasons people become homeless:
    42.5% Lost job or economic issues (insert drug use in this factor)
    20% drugs or alcohol use (usually contributes to lost job, divorce or argument with family member)
    17% divorce or separation (insert drug use in this factor)
    15% an argument with a family member who asked them to leave (insert drug use into this factor)
    7.5% eviction (insert drug use into this factor)
    10% mental health or physical health issues (this is actually a real factor)
    And there you have it.

  6. Vagrancy is not complicated or contradictory – that is an excuse to keep wasting more money while doing nothing but grow the problem. The more you incentivize vagrncy, the more you will get. This is not complicated. It is simple. vagrants are either have nots, can nots or will nots. Which one of these three get free room and board at the Rose Garden Inn? How long will it take to get the word out to the rest of the wandering, non-resident community.

  7. Upper State has long been a crime cess pit – just look at Crime Spotters. Hope those new million dollar plus condo owners at Estancia (former Sandman Inn) have a truth in advertising clause that lets them get out of their contracts.

  8. You have already done this on Upper State – nearly all the former motels are now Section 8 housing. You see, there is no end to the demand. So there has to be an end to this ridiculous city council – this November.

  9. This plan does nothing to address the root cause of what people like to call “homelessness.” Offering a room and services is nice, but those suffering from addiction and mental illness can’t and won’t voluntarily make the changes necessary to get their lives on track. This motel is going to be little more than a heroin/meth den. The article also mentions fires. While people suffering from mental illness and addiction tend to set lots of fires, relocating them also fails to address the root cause of our fire problem. Nothing is being done to mitigate the vast amounts of hazardous dead and dry fuels around our community. We need to adopt a new approach that addresses these problems head on.

  10. Take one outstretched palm and place another outstretched palm into a “Time Out” position and point it to City Hall, while saying see you in November. No one keeps doing this to us, without our permission at the ballot box. You have good choices to make this year. Make all four of them count. Plus get a new city attorney who will fight for this city’s property owning and taxpaying residents, and stop giving it away to those who are neither.

  11. So let’s bring them up from downtown and give them free room and board and amenities in San Roque, next to a bunch of restaurants. We are only moving the problem, not creating a solution. You cannot force them into mental health services or addiction services. They will be roaming around San Roque now, panhandling at Jeannine’s. Why would we move them into an area extremely densely populated with families with children? Funnel this magical money gift into a facility out on the outskirts of town past Winchester so we don’t have to worry about taking our kids out to dinner and them witnessing mental ill homesless peeing and masturbating next to our dinner. So sick of this crap.

  12. Wow, within walking distance to 5 Points and La Cumbre! The people who shop those places are in for a surprise. Just a matter of time before a family trying to enjoy an outdoor lunch at Lure is treated to a homeless person exposing themselves, or worse. The horror. How long until the Rose Garden Inn goes up in flames? Roger and the rest of the scanner crew are in for a busy summer….

  13. Someone should tell CityNet that we can only support Santa Barbara natives in these expensive motels , otherwise everyone will be coming here .And Why should we have sex offenders in these hotels next to neighborhoods with families ? Who is in charge of these decisions ?

  14. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that we cannot force them into mental health or addiction services. Until that changes, all we can do is relocate the problem and the situation will continue to spiral out of control.

  15. To the Santa Barbara City Council:
    Homeless housing that will cost $10,000 per person, per month?
    Is this how our local hard working people want you to spend their tax money?
    If I am more proficient in math than over 50% of our local school children, then this brilliant plan will cost local taxpayers $40,000, per person for four months; $10,000 per person, per month for housing only 50 people out of the hundreds of homeless we have here.
    Have you even thought about asking those homeless who can work, to earn money for their food, shelter and clothing?
    The City Council can provide ocean going luxury 1/2 the cost of this plan:
    The cruise industry is trying to recover and month long cruises are available for $5,000 per person, or less. Why put these homeless people up in a crummy motel when our City Council can provide them with cruising luxury for 1/2 the cost?
    The council can either save 1/2 of what they intend to spend on 50 homeless people or go large and give a 34-day cruise each month to 100 homeless people instead.
    Just one of many cruises that are available-34 nights for under $5,000 per person:
    Princess Cruises, Diamond Princess
    Diamond Princess Cruise Ship34 Nights Antarctica, Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure from $4697 pp 34 Night – Antarctica, Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure – Los Angeles to Buenos Aires aboard Diamond Princess – Starting in Los Angeles with stops in Puntarenas, Manta, Callao, General San Martin, Coquimbo, San Antonio, Punta Arenas, Tierra Del Fuego, Cape Horn – Scenic Cruising, Antarctic Peninsula – Scenic Cruising, Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos Aires
    2021 Sails: Dec 1
    What happens to these 50 people when their motel stay is over in four months?
    If this plan is put into effect, then every member of the Santa Barbara City Council should be recalled.

  16. Who wants to bet on the hotel burning down soon as they do that I say make cuyama great again send them over there and we can build a place for those kind of numbers 10000 per person per month yikes

  17. It’s easy to say that, SBTOWNIE. But we cannot call our system a “justice” system if we continue to punish criminals who have done their time. I get the outrage, especially for this case involving a crime against a child, it’s tough. However we cannot turn our backs and govt benefits while simultaneously saying these ex-cons are reformed. America has a massive prison and reform problem. Until we fix that, this is how it is. Outrage at this guy receiving govt handouts is a symptom of a broken system.

  18. Thank you! It was sent to the council. If passed by the council, it will be paid for by hard working local taxpayers. Cost will be $40,000 to house each one of the 50 homeless people for four months. This amounts to $10,000 per month, per person, housed in a crummy motel!
    $2,000,000! Madness!

  19. What is wrong with the rescue mission? They have a good strong program there that helps more than hinders this whole situation. They have been here along time too their beans and rice a thousand times better than any of this towns so called gourmet food because it is cooked with love.

  20. I hope that none of the negative commenters here have loved family members who fall on hard times, and you take them in and then get shunned by neighbors, …well, reading these comments I’d guess none of the commenters WOULD help even their family member. And maybe they should feel how it is to be despised.
    These edhat comments and others of their ilk are eye-opening about fellow Santa Barbarans. I live on the east side and we here have housed a lot of those needing and the world has not come to an end. The Quarantina underpass is a homeless site but because councilmember A. Gutierrez lives near the Cacique underpass, that was cleared of homeless. It’s about time that other areas of Santa Barbara provide the needed services as well as those of us on the east side. And time to recognize that better housing than the street will encourage the majority of those helped, say studies, to move on to permanent housing while just leaving people on the streets condemns them to panhandling and sickness.

  21. SBTOWNIE, it is very obviously a punishment to withhold benefits extended to literally any other citizen who qualifies based solely on a criminal record. It’s a hard truth to swallow and I hear you. But the American justice system has bred this opinion in you and many others. It’s a sick and twisted feedback loop, and look where it’s landed us. I encourage you to take a look at other first-world takes at prison systems, rehabilitation, and recidivism rates.

  22. And – it’s not ME that insists, it is the idea that a justice system provides justice that insists. Back to the idea that you cannot claim justice served while simultaneously continuing to punish, whatever form that may come in. I know this is angering to many, it angers me too. But I don’t believe in punishing a citizen for the failures of a system we, me, you, our country and our government created. Where do you draw the line? Do you believe sex offenders should be locked up for life with no chance of parole? If so, your beef is with your lawmakers, not with the sex offenders.

  23. Folks in the City, such as the churches, commendably used to open their meeting halls for the unhoused to sleep and have a hot meal during infrequent cold snaps and rain. Now the City is putting up the unhoused during…. Fire Season. June July August Sept October. Air conditioning included? This is going way beyond humanitarian into the realm of bizarre.

  24. They are coming for the weather and the ease of life here. Many places to hide in the bushes and camp. Word is OUT. It’s NOT going to stop either, there is a massive crippling housing crisis all over the nation and the homeless are only going to grow unless we get a handle on how to make housing… ownership and attainment, available to anyone who works hard and wants to, NOT JUST THE WEALTHY or investment companies or flippers.

  25. Yep! This is Capitalism run amok, NOT liberals. Capitalism allowed for the current housing crisis. Everything is about flip, flip, buy, own, more, More… MORE, MORE! Investment companies grabbing up large swaths of homes and gobbling them down to make a profit. GOUGING rents and unaffordable homes. Those heinous “I buy houses for cash” signs who destroy and ruin neighborhoods. Middle class squeezed right the hell out of Santa Barbara! This is Capitalism gone wrong. WAY wrong. Greed has won.

  26. Yep! This is Capitalism run amok, NOT liberals. Capitalism allowed for the current housing crisis. Everything is about flip, flip, buy, own, more, More… MORE, MORE! Investment companies grabbing up large swaths of homes and gobbling them down to make a profit. GOUGING rents and unaffordable homes. Those heinous “I buy houses for cash” signs who destroy and ruin neighborhoods. Middle class squeezed right the hell out of Santa Barbara! This is Capitalism gone wrong. WAY wrong. Greed has won.

  27. 76% are NOT homegrown. Living here for 4 years crashing with your alcoholic cousin after you came in by bus from Indianapolis doesn’t make you “from here.” I would all but guarantee the definition of “homegrown” from the Indy is misleading. This number would be 50% AT BEST.

  28. The vast majority of wealth creation in a capitalistic society is from “makers” and not inherited. Makers create jobs and generate tax income to the government. Jobs is what keeps the economy going. What I see happening now are so many “takers” too lazy to work hard and just wanting the liberal government to give them hand outs. Many of these homeless people are just that – takers. Taking from the true people in need of help. If you truly want to solve these issues, then let private enterprise figure out. Get some Harvard MBAs in a room and provide them a monetary incentive. Problem is they will solve the problem and get rich. But people will still complain, people like GT rather have a homeless encampment on their driveway vs rewarding the person who got the problem to go away. The rich are not to blame. I suggest all of you takers move to a socialist country so that you can revel in your stupidity and lazyness.

  29. Duke, HUD estimates the cost to end homelessness in the US at $20B. For comparison, we’ve dumped $6,400B down a hole in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria since 2001. I don’t do math like VOR, but 0.3% is a TINY amount compared to that, even if you ignore all of the other money we waste on defense and homeland security that doesn’t provide food or shelter for anyone. Comes out to little more than $30,000 per homeless person in the US. TINY!

  30. Pit, I often disagree with you but I know you argue in good faith so I hope you will understand that I am trying to do the same here. There is absolutely NO the HUD estimate is correct unless we kick off a massive program to geographically move the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in this country to financially (for the taxpayer) advantageous areas. LA county said in the last 1-2 years that they were unable to produce a unit of new housing for the homeless for less than something around $531,000 PER PERSON (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-09-09/high-of-746-000-for-homeless-housing-audit-says-try-rehabbing-motels-instead). This was for permanent structures – not parking lot campsites or motel rentals, but as we can see those costs are also extremely high and they are a temporary fix. Not to mention the costs of any form of housing in no way address the costs of other treatment and care many of these people need. I am absolutely in support of housing the homeless, but I do not support building housing for them in posh, upmarket places where the cost to do so is extreme and footed ultimately by the taxpayer. I would rather see our funds go locally to housing for the workforce, etc. The HUD figure must be off by a factor of at least 10, and I’d say more like 15-20 in California.

  31. That HUD estimate is one of the craziest numbers you (or anyone) has ever cited on here… it’s laughably ludicrous. We’re spending two million dollars for 30 hotel rooms for 4 months… do some extrapolation and tell me how 20 billion “ends homelessness in America”…

  32. Many landlords take section 8… and right now they are offering bonuses to anyone who accepts a section 8 tenant. The wait list is to “get a voucher”, which is being bypassed to hand them out left and right to the homeless. So yes… there is a years long waitlist if you are working and struggling to get by with your family and get a section 8 voucher… but if you are homeless and causing issues They are handing them out right and left!!

  33. I spent several years on the streets as a juvenile then after having meningitis no one would hire me because my brain was damaged. I unloaded trucks and dug ditches under mim. wage. I slept in card board boxes in the rain and under bridges and ate out of the trash and almost died eating poison. I had a very hard young life I know what hard times are. I remember when part of the downtown area got flooded people were hiring others for 10.00 an hour to dig peoples homes out. I saw a guy panhandling downtown “Will work for money” his sign said. I told him I could set him up with work right then and there he told me to “Go to hell” he got more begging for m,oney…Wow. I have known others made 120.00 an hour panhanding 20 years ago so I know they get bank now some of those panhandlers are part of homeless Inc. Con’s through and through.

  34. @Marcelk, @SBTownie, @Seabird @Pitmix, the SB County point in time count will be looking for volunteers for the 2022 count and you are welcome to meet the 77% of houseless people who were once your neighbors, but now live in their vehicles or on the streets. http://countyofsb.org/uploadedFiles/housing/Content/Homeless_Assistance/HomlessAssistance_Site_Update_2019/2020%20PIT%20Presentation.pdf

  35. Vote them out now ! It’s time for a new City Counsel & Mayor who address their tax paying constituents concerns.
    This is a pea-brained band-aid which doesn’t address the problem. But what it does is bring additional vagrants to the upper State St “resort”. What is your plan when this motel is full of vagrants…? Where is your next brilliant location ? Paseo Nuevo ? This re-location plan just expands the problem from one part of the city to another

  36. Ad in the Indy by SBACT says that 76% of our homeless are homegrown. So that myth of being a magnet for outsiders because of our services is just an urban legend that appeals to the emotions of consarvative commentators.

  37. The long nightmare will soon be over. A brand new city council majority in November will stop asking “where will they go”; and will start asking –why are they coming? 20 years of city council mismanagement have incentivized transients and vagrancy that has overtaken this community. 2021 is the year this will stop.

  38. Billions of dollars already spent on our federal social welfare system for those finding temporary impoverishment. Take that 42% out of the percentages – we are already generously supplying for their needs. These are the “have nots”. 10% – need to be put in lockdown state care institutions. the “can nots”. Which leaves 50% who are 90% of the problems – – the drug and alcohol addicts and the service resistant “will nots”. I do not want to waste another dime on them. Nor should you.

  39. I’ll be a new Santa Barbara resident soon and wish to comment on the contrast between the thoughtfulness of this article and the lack of thoughtfulness in some of these comments. I chose to live in this community for the rest of my life, not just for its human scale, natural beauty, and historical preservation, but also for the City’s respect for the human condition. Some of the commenters complain about the cost of helping the homeless live lives integrated in the life of the community. EXPENSE? Didn’t the horrors of past institutionalization come at great financial expense as well as at horrible moral cost? LOCATION: Do wealthier members of the community deserve, solely by their wealth, less exposure to the human condition? UN-DESERVING? Engagement through services is intended to reduce homelessness by identifying and assisting those folks with an ability to be independent. We all have a natural responsibility to everyone in our community. And each of us, housed or not, to the level of our respective ability, have a responsibility back to the community. How is my view incorrect?

  40. Folks…some of you should be ashamed of yourselves. The talking points by some are strong, but many of you are just complaining for the sake of complaining. Where is your empathy? Where is your sense of community? Are you so far above the rest that you must look down at those with less, or those with problems that can’t seem to find the right help? Does that make you better than them? It certainly does not. Even the post breaking down reasons for being homeless. I can tell you, that myself and many of us are one paycheck away from being on the street. That is how it is in Santa Barbara. I know homeless people. These are folks I grew up with that had one bad hand after another. Even the trust fund hope ranch kids I know, a few are homeless. To instantly say drugs and alcohol led to it, simply shows you have no sense of reality nor have you “been there”. I have. Let me tell you, it is the worst feeling to not know where you will sleep night after night, how you will eat, shower and even basic human functions such as going to the toilet. The feeling of hopelessness and sadness overwhelms you THEN you start hitting the bottle or other sources of escape from the pain that is now your life. Those people are brothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, moms, sisters to others but you feel it’s ok to label them, judge them and blame them for everything that goes wrong. I saw someone mention Megan’s Law. Do you know that there are many predators living in homes in downtown residential neighborhoods? Also a registered sex offender rule/thing is broken. Urinating in public isn’t a sex crime and whomever thought it was is just gross if you’re into that. Be kind, help your fellow Santa Barbarans rather than judge and assume.

  41. Danny, If you are new to Santa Barbara, you better take an instant crash course on what this city has already provided, and has long provided, in the way of public, private and non profit subsidized and supportive housing. Now well over 20% of all housing units have some form of subsidy or price fixing. We have reached the end of the natural limits and this long-standing public generosity, which has now turned on us and caused our community to sicken and die.

  42. Prol, that is the question these people need to ask themselves, when alternate housing they can afford is available all over this state, but not here in a premium, high cost, limited supply area. It is no longer our responsibility any longer to provide free housing and support to everyone who choose to come here with no means of support, but with plenty of social problems. You have your priorities totally upside down. Homeless Inc is obviously on a roll today with the sole intent of protecting their own cash flow and jobs. . Not working. Game’s over.

  43. Current city council just handed city voters the perfect election issue. Throw the bums out: Murillo, Sneddon, Harmon and Friedman. Clear the deck of this ongoing city council nonsense and finally clean up this town.

  44. Thank you, @ZeroHawk, for conveying your humanity to the rest of us in a persuasively concrete and visceral way. Keep going. You have a better ability to convince the currently callous among us not just of their blinders and moral shortcomings hurting us all, homeless or not, but also that life is capricious…anyone of us could find ourselves homeless at some point in life.

  45. ZEROHAWK – Standing ovation. Well said, absolutely. Key word is “empathy.” It’s the same people here complaining about having to “help” in any way, that also complain about the BLM movement, shrieking “ALL lives matter,” or complain about Sambos or Pride week or any thing that focuses on the plight of those different from themselves. Are they hateful? Some. But many are just incapable or simply unwilling to try a little empathy and think about how people other than them might be existing and what their lives might be like. It’s truly sickening how many flat out refuse to take 5 minutes to think about someone else’s life experience and how it might be different from their own. Once you do that, it makes you not just a better person, but a kinder person. People here need to try that.

  46. This is by definition the richest country ever in the history of the world spending a tiny amount of its resources on helping the less fortunate among us. I hate that our National Representatives make local government bear the financial burden, but 100% support the effort.

  47. Okay Byzantium, I’ll bite–what’s your answer to the problem?
    IMO, you have to hit this issue from all sides, i.e., wipe out the camps, heavily enforce on the streets so that citizens and businesses can go about their lives and functions–basically make it as difficult as possible for people to continue living on the street with addictions, violence, and crime.
    AND AT THE SAME TIME you have to flood the issue with money for housing, mental health drug and alcohol treatment, reintroduction to the rules and expectations of society and yes job training.
    But this needs to happen on a state wide level or we will have an endless supply of homeless people coming here to take advantage of what we offer.

  48. No thinking person is not concerned about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of our country’s homeless, many of whom are military veterans.
    With all respect:
    Some of you are missing the point. This motel housing will cost $10,000 per month, per homeless person, for four months, a total of $40,000 each. Here are some issues to ponder:
    What happens to these people after four months? The streets again?
    Is it prudent to spend $40,000 each on 50 homeless people out of hundreds, for a relatively few months of housing?
    This money will not provide any mental health services, which most need.
    This will not contribute to working with the homeless who are able in mind and body and help get them back into society and earn a living.
    This $2,000,000 is not being spent wisely!
    This program is nothing more than a band aid for a festering and growing infection!

  49. Sac – the problem has obviously and definitively gotten worse. We are throwing billions to dollars at this and what we are getting is a ton of non profit organisations jumping in to help use and disperse that money. Most are no doubt well meaning… but there is a lot of money going around… just look at the cost breakdown of this project or the pallet village in IV… thus the term “homeless inc”…
    The left for some reason loves to say that not much had changed and “we’re not that bad” (thanks mrs mayor)… but things are worse than they were 20 years ago… and we are actively making things worse..

  50. DUKE – sure, it’s maybe gotten worse over the years, but to keep suggesting that downtown SB was recently some idyllic, clean and vagrant-free paradise that is now all of a sudden overrun with “homeless criminals” is just not accurate. I never said “we’re not that bad,” read it again.

  51. COAST – the “vagrants” from Oregon have been flooding our streets since the mid 90s.
    Look, all you who keep arguing that this is a new thing, fine, believe what you want, but it helps nothing. We need to clean up SB whether it is a new or old thing. Niggling over the exact decade or year it became a “problem,” is pointless. Fact is, something needs to have been done long ago and still needs doing. Now, with the fire threats, we have a new issue. Let’s focus on tackling that and not on when you think homeless people starting populating SB. Sheesh, priorities people.

  52. SOCALMOMMY – “the outskirts of town past Winchester.” Ok, wow. Have you ever been out here? How far are you talking about? The bluffs of Gaviota? Dos Pueblos Ranch? Rancho Embarcadero? Winchester Canyon itself? What do you think exists in these “outskirts?” Where, exactly, do you want to push the homeless so they don’t bother you at Jeannine’s?

  53. We’re witnessing the endgame of capitalism, where a few wealthy individuals and corporations have accumulated most of the wealth while the rest of us are left to fight for the scraps. Our capitalist system wasn’t designed to handle a crisis with the magnitude of COVID . We are at a point where the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, and individual nations are taken over by the global market. Currently, 45 percent of the American workforce is denied paid sick leave and health insurance, which means that many workers will continue going to work while sick in fear of losing out on pay or being fired altogether, thus further spreading the illness. Those who do stay home sick may forgo a doctor’s visit out of fear of the cost. One in five Americans has already lost work hours or their jobs entirely due to the pandemic. Many people are one paycheck away from disaster. When a 200 square foot apartment in Santa Barbara costs $2500 a month, where are you going to start housing people?

  54. Thank you, Bird, for showing some compassion where so many others aren’t. I am with you. God forbid any of us should fall into such bad circumstances. It’s so expensive here, it can happen to even the best of us with one health tragedy or accident or…

  55. A “Socialist” country. You mean like Switzerland? What our country has SBLOCAL1967 is a lot of loud mouth, angry working class that know they will never make it to middle class – who never saw value in education that feel so entitled by their anger they have nothing in their lives except for spewing unsubstantiated populist/nativist drivel.

  56. You can’t end homelessness with 20 billion dollars… this is obviously a bizarre and insane argument/point. I mean seriously… how does 30k per person “end it” when we are spending 10k per person per month to temporarily house people in a hotel…?
    Please elaborate…

  57. SBT, are you saying that HUD under Trump didn’t know what they were doing? Because that estimate is from a few years ago.
    Even if it takes 20x that estimate, and assumes that all States will adopt the crazy expensive policies of California to deal with their homeless, that is still just 6% of the money we wasted on our foreign adventures. A relatively small amount compared to what we waste money on.

  58. This is, surprise surprise, patently false. The 20 billion dollar figure comes from a paraphrased statement made in 2012 from someone in HUD regarding the ANNUAL cost. The current estimate is an additional 30 billion per year to expand the voucher program to everyone eligible. This won’t end homelessness as X number of people are choosing it, but it would go a long way towards mitigating it. Humorous though that you took a portion of what the annual would be and somehow made it out it to be the “end of homelessness”. It’s not a one time 30k payment… it’s a yearly 40k plus per person.

  59. Do you ever check your sources? I mean…a random Twitter stat is probably right every once in awhile, but goodness… it’s wildly off and bizarre more often than not. Just step back and think… 30k per person ends homelessness… how??!!!?? What possible logic and new math could even make someone begin to think it was even in the realm of possibility and reality? Not to mention, no matter how much you spend, you aren’t “ending homelessness”. A certain number of people won’t go to a provided house, as we saw at west beach with all the people refusing the hotel vouchers.

  60. Because every facet of your point was wrong! In addition to citing the wrong president (the 20 billion figure was made in 2012) it was an annual amount to get housing to everyone eligible. That figure is now 30 to 40 billion per year. This is just for vouchers, which let’s say you suddenly give out and fund. Where do you find the additional 500k units you need to utilise those vouchers. And considering how much of the homeless issue is tied up with addition And mental health, how much on top of that would you need to deal with that aspect of it? Considering how much of the cost in each of these small local projects is for the “non housing element” of it with support and what not, we could easily call it 100 billion per year. And with that… You still aren’t ending homelessness!
    So my problem is, in addition to all the numbers and “math” you brought up being Wildly off base and wrong, the shade thrown at the wrong president (it was a HUD official under Obama), the very premise is wrong as you aren’t ending homelessness.
    So yeah, I find it difficult to recognise what you are saying as everything you are pointing out is wildly off base and fantastical.
    That being said, yes… we have wasted a ton of money on wars and paying people the last year to stay home instead of work. It would have been much better to save that money and use it for the communal good. Bush, Obama, trump and Biden have and are wasting crazy amounts of money… stop the wars and paying people not to work… let’s use that money for good!! But please check your decimal points and sources Pit… using crazy obviously wrong numbers to make (potentially) valid points is a very bad habit…

Full Strawberry Moon

Small Brush Fire Near Micheltorena Bridge