It was freezing cold in Santa Barbara last night, Monday, November 29, and that’s never good news for a homeless person. Casa Esperanza and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission had emergency shelter beds for those who didn’t want to risk illness or getting an illegal lodging ticket. But the shelters many homeless prefer, because they’re less crowded and have fewer rules, are the Freedom Warming Centers. They won’t begin operating until December 1. That’s tomorrow.
Beginning that day, when bad weather triggers are present, Lynne Jahnke, M.D., yhe Freedom Warming Centers coordinator in the South County, will decide whether or not to mobilize her staff and the staff of a handful of churches downtown and in Isla Vista, to become temporary cold weather refuges for the homeless.
They’ll operate a lot like last year’s Freedom Warming Centers, with a couple of differences. Last year, the centers were volunteer-run until February, when the County Board of Supervisors kicked in $40,000 for staff and supplies. This year, the county kicked in $51,000 right off the bat, during summertime budget hearings, so the Department of Public Health and the Department of Emergency Services could work with advocates to create a more structured system. To read more, see homelessinsb.org.