Schwartz: Aiding Homeless Is Civil Rights Work

Planning Commissioner Is Running for City Council

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Deborah Schwartz, a Santa Barbara City planning commissioner, says that leadership and a sense of responsibility to the community are in her DNA. The daughter of retired 1st District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz, Deborah has been an external affairs director at a Fortune 500 company and a community relations director for a Santa Barbara nonprofit in addition to running her own consulting company. Now she’s running for the Santa Barbara City Council.

Deborah Schwartz
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Courtesy Photo

Deborah Schwartz

Homelessness, of course, is one of the top five hot-button issues that City Council candidates must grapple with. Having lived in Santa Barbara most of her life (except a 20-year stint in San Francisco) Schwartz has witnessed the shifting patterns of homelessness in Santa Barbara over the years. Before moving back to Santa Barbara six years ago, she learned more about the issue through her involvement in a San Francisco program called Project Homeless Connect, run out of then-mayor Gavin Newsom’s office.

Schwartz thinks homelessness is not merely a social problem, but a human tragedy and human rights issue. Having read the recently released Common Ground survey data, she said it should be apparent to all that there are large numbers of extremely vulnerable homeless people in our midst. Resources need to be better coordinated in order to respond, she said.

“Here in Santa Barbara, we have an opportunity to make a huge difference if we’re strategic, if we have the right outreach resources and the right coordinated supportive services,” she said. To read more, see

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