A $5,200 dollar donation from Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) pushed Santa Barbara’s Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness to the next level on Wednesday, December 12, giving its governing board the green light to begin searching for an executive director.
CLUE members gave the check to key representatives of the plan’s board on Wednesday morning outside of the Casa Esperanza homeless shelter, including its chairwoman Jeanette Duncan and boardmember Mike Foley. Foley is also Casa Esperanza’s executive director.
Anne Jaqua of Trinity Episcopal Church sits on CLUE Santa Barbara’s Steering Committee. She explained that in September the organization decided to send letters to 100 area churches and synagogues asking for money to support the Ten Year Plan. The $5,200 came in fairly quickly, she said, mostly from Catholic parishes. “We may get more,” she added.
According to Santa Barbara County’s Homeless Coordinator Roger Heroux, the check was significant because it impelled the plan past the amount needed for six months of salary for the director’s position. Whoever is hired, he said, will be responsible for implementing the Ten Year Plan. Other contributors include The Hutton Foundation, The Saint Francis Foundation, and The Santa Barbara Foundation.
The Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness is an outgrowth of new efforts from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. In 2002, the Bush Administration gave the office a new executive director, Philip Manango, and a mandate to end chronic homelessness within 10 years. Today, 320 cities and counties across the country (including Santa Barbara) either have a Ten Year Plan of their own or are in the throws of creating one.
Santa Barbara’s Ten Year Plan was written in a six-month process that involved more than 100 people directly or indirectly connected with homelessness prevention or services in Santa Barbara County, Heroux said. It was then approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors and the cities of Lompoc, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria. This September, the plan’s 30-member Governing Board convened for the first time.
The Santa Barbara chapter of CLUE was founded four years ago. Reverend Mark Asman of Trinity Episcopal Church said that in the process of campaigning for the Living Wage Ordinance, he and his colleagues recognized there was a need to involve clergy and laity more deeply in public issues. CLUE also supported Santa Barbara grocery workers during their strike against the national grocery corporations, and are active with the Santa Barbara chapter of Health Care For All.
Heroux said a chief Ten Year Plan goal is to create permanent housing for 900 of Santa Barbara’s chronically homeless. He said 15 percent of the homeless nationally are considered chronic and that, according to studies, this slice of the population uses half of all homeless services provided by cities, counties, and states.