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Robert R. Gilbertson

Paul Wellman

Robert R. Gilbertson


El Carrillo: Santa Barbara’s “Almost” Housing First

Sixty-One Unit Building Gives Santa Barbara’s Homeless a Shot at Homes


Three blocks west of State, where the chronically homeless are ticketed and carted off to jail in handcuffs, there is a housing complex dedicated to giving many of these same people a shot at permanent housing, sobriety, and social connectedness. Known as El Carrillo, this City Housing Authority complex is the closest thing Santa Barbara has to a Housing First program.

From the outside, El Carrillo seems kind of ordinary, with split-levels and those signature red-tile roofs. Inside, with 61 units situated on three floors, each entered from an open, shared balcony, its high-density character is immediately evident. Yet with potted trees and courtyards with gurgling fountains, it has a breezy, relaxed feel. El Carrillo residents come and go as they please. A few have jobs. Some volunteer. Others spend their days managing a disability or recovery program. Some take advantage of an array of support services offered by the staff of PathPoint Inc., including group support meetings, alcohol and drug counseling, yoga, gardening, and even a monthly shopping sojourn to Costco. But others partake only sporadically, keeping more to themselves. To read more, see homelessinsb.org.

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