Ode to El Carrillo

This month marks the fourth anniversary of El Carrillo Studios, a beautifully designed, 61-unit supportive housing development for the homeless located downtown, developed and operated by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara.

For the last four years, El Carrillo has provided a safe and comfortable home to formerly homeless individuals—men and women, young and old, challenged by significant life events that many of us cannot even imagine.

While “success” at El Carrillo can be measured in terms as distinct and varied as the residents themselves, what’s certain is that El Carrillo stands as a valuable and lasting resource in Santa Barbara. It needs replication locally and throughout this great nation if we are to truly end homelessness. A community that overlooks its poor and working classes is not a healthy community, nor is it a safe one.

Having a permanent place to call home promotes stability and wellness. We who are involved in operating El Carrillo witness this on a daily basis. Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, theorized that human beings possess a “hierarchy of needs.” Without a person’s most basic needs for food, water, sleep, and security being met, the chance to thrive and to be successful, to “self-actualize” and reach one’s full potential, is unlikely if not impossible.

In addition to our longstanding partnership with PathPoint, the Housing Authority works alongside many public and nonprofit agencies that provide on-site supportive services at El Carrillo to those overcoming chronic homelessness. It is because of this collective vision that El Carrillo now stands as a beacon of hope, and a monument to social justice and human dignity.— Alice Villareal Redit is the client services coordinator for the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara.

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