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Homeless Czar Outlines Action Plan to Get People off Streets

Philip Mangano Talks About Problems in Santa Barbara and Beyond

Friday, February 21, 2014
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It’s been a few years since Philip Mangano served as the federal government’s “Homeless Czar” — working under the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama — but the tag sticks. And for good reason. Mangano made serious waves while working as the head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness under Bush. Using his federal position as a bully pulpit, Mangano challenged cities and counties receiving federal homeless assistance to come up with real plans — not merely good intentions — to bring down the number of homeless on their streets. Going through the motions — even actual service — was no longer enough. Mangano, an evangelical optimist in the face of what appears to be an intractable problem, brought a keen eye for the bottom line. By putting the homeless in some form of housing, service providers could more efficiently focus their efforts on those most service-reluctant. And yes, he acknowledged, such efforts would cost money. But the alternative, he pointed out, was dramatically far more expensive.

Mangano left the Obama administration after three months to start a new nonprofit, the American Roundtable to Abolish Homelessness. This Monday, he’ll be in Santa Barbara, hoping to jump-start a strategic plan adopted before the recession to reduce the number of homeless on the streets of Santa Barbara. For most of the day, Mangano will be meeting with elected officials, service providers, and business leaders as part of an effort organized by the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, otherwise known as C3H. On Monday at 7:30 p.m., he’ll be part of a public forum on the subject held at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Admission is free. The Santa Barbara Independent had a telephone conversation with Mangano a week ago, and the following is an edited version.

You were here in 2008 to see about how we could best deal with the homeless. Any recollections as to your impressions? I was struck by the number of homeless people living on the streets. I felt that Santa Barbara, for its size, had a disproportionate number of homeless people for such a beautiful community. The idea was to develop a plan that would reduce the number. What I’ve said many times is there’s only a single metric on homelessness and that single metric is that fewer of our neighbors fall into the long misery of homelessness. Back then in the mid-2000s in Santa Barbara, you had over 4,000 people who were homeless on any given night. That number has come down a bit in recent years, but it’s ticking back up. The chronically homeless — those who are most vulnerable, those who are randomly ricocheting through a variety of systems in the community, the emergency rooms, the hospitals, the acute side of substance abuse, mental health, being seen by police, by judges, by the prosecution — those were our primary focus. My sense of Santa Barbara was the problem was a finite problem. I had very high hopes in terms of what could be accomplished. Back then, of those 4,000, only 500 were experiencing chronic homelessness. It seemed to be accomplishable to make the situation on the streets commensurate with the beauty of Santa Barbara.

People like to blame Ronald Reagan when he was governor for shutting down the mental institutions, but it seems like the problem of homelessness is so much bigger than that. What I wonder is, what gives rise to such large numbers of people who are so disconnected? I’ve heard it many times that in California it was Ronald Reagan who led the deinstitutionalization that led to homelessness. What most people don’t realize is the impetus for deinstitutionalization in our country was already a progressive policy initiated by John F. Kennedy when he was president. The hard reality of it is that in every country of the world where deinstitutionalization has been tried, no one has done it the way it was supposed to be done. First, it required placement of those released into the community in stable residential conditions. Second, it required that the new psychotropic medications that were then available be taken. And third — and most importantly — that there was community support for these people in their communities. That’s the hard part. We provided a place, we provided the psychotropic medications, but we did not provide the community support services that were needed, whether it was in Ronald Reagan’s California or Mike Dukakis’s Massachusetts, or wherever.

As a result, you had people leaving large mental hospitals medicated and feeling great. They began feeling that they were cured and that the problem was not them but their surroundings, which were atrocious, fetid, and unconscionable. Then they stopped taking their medications. If a person isn’t encouraged to take their meds, they don’t. People were left alone in their housing; they stopped taking their meds, and then they decompensated. They’d then lose their place, and and when they fell, the institutions had been closed. So they fell to the streets. That’s the origin of contemporary homelessness.

Most of those people have aged along, but the hard reality is the mental health system itself has not fully embraced the initiatives that get the job done for this population. Part of the population remains people with mental health issues who don’t get the services they need from the mental-health system. The same could be said for the disease of substance abuse. The problem is much greater than the resources available for treatment. So you get people falling into homelessness from those two areas. Then, add on domestic violence, bad outcomes from foster care, people coming out of the military service, and a number of other systems that haven’t done a good enough job in discharge-planning. People are often discharged to places like Skid Row.

And then there’s the economy. During the economic well-being of the 1980s, in cities all over our country, there were many lodging houses where someone could stay for $4 or $5 a night. In Boston, there were 20,000 of those kinds of units. It was a step above a flop house. In the economic boom of the ‘80s, that real estate became that much more valuable. Many of those lodging houses were converted to luxury apartments and condominiums. We did a study of that in Massachusetts. What we discovered was that we lost 96 percent of those single-room-occupancy units — lodging-house rooms for people on the fringe of economic stability who could still find a place to live at night even if they had an addiction. As those were wiped out, we made a graph of the diminution of those rooms and another graph showing the increase in number of shelter beds in the state. It was perfectly aligned, except the number of shelter beds was far less than the number of rooms that were lost. The shelter became the surrogate for living on your own.

So how do put that genie back in the bottle? What can be done about that? The “housing first” response is the appropriate response. What we need to do is restore the units that have been lost, and wherever that’s happened — in New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Miami — wherever there was a restoration of the units the poorest people could live in, the number of homeless on the streets dropped.

When I was in Washington, we created 55,000 units. What we saw throughout the country was that the number of people on the street dropped dramatically. We knew we had a strategy that works. Years ago, we couldn’t say we knew what to do. Today, not only do we know what to do; we know how to do it. That’s a giant step forward.

That’s sounds great, but I don’t see how you do this. Where’s the money for it? It’s not like there’s a lot of vacant land laying around. The flop houses have been converted, the redevelopment agencies — which provided funding — have been shut down. Where’s the money for this? Part of the answer is that for years the federal government has targeted monies for homelessness and the creation of such tenancies. In recent years, it’s been the Department of Veterans Affairs that’s put out a lot more resources to the homeless, specifically to house homeless veterans. So there are financial mechanisms from the federal government. But here’s the economic dilemma: The hard reality is that homeless people are already costing us much more than it would cost to literally house them. Why is that? What we found in study after study after study is that without direct intervention, this hardcore chronic population won’t make it on their own. Most of the homeless eventually do, but the chronically homeless don’t. And as they randomly ricochet through the very expensive health and law enforcement systems, they cost us a lot more than if we provided them a place to live and the services to support them in that housing.

I emphasize services. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that housing without services just sets people up for failure. But we’ve also learned that services without housing just leaves people where they are. Only when you combine the two can you move forward. In cost study after cost study after cost study, in 70 cities, the cost of housing with services is less than them randomly ricocheting. For someone ricocheting through the system, the cost is $35,000 to $150,000 per person per year.

I hear what you’re saying. But one of the arguments I hear is that when you get one person off the streets, it just opens up room for someone else. I hear people say it’s like trying to dig a hole in the sand and fill it up with water. Here’s the reality. One of the things we discovered is that the cost of housing with services combined ranged from $12,000 to $25,000 per year per person. You don’t need to be Suze Orman to figure this out. Every single study says exactly the same thing. As to your point that every time you house somebody, someone else comes along, it only seems like that. In communities that have actually implemented strategic plans to reduce chronic homelessness, they’ve seen consistent decreases over time, over years. The numbers go down; there are fewer people on the street; there are fewer people the police deal with; and there are fewer people in the emergency rooms.

South of Santa Barbara, there are 10 communities in Southern California that have plans. Eight of them have had multiple-year decreases of chronic homelessness. That’s visible; that’s quantifiable. And the tenor of things has changed in those communities. Pasadena has had multiple years of reductions, and the streets of Pasadena look a lot different now than they did before by virtue of the implementation of the strategic production of “housing first” units. All around our country and in Southern California, we have seen dramatic changes.

Santa Barbara has adopted all kinds of plans, but it doesn’t seem that different. What happened in Santa Barbara — and this is important — just when they created the plan, that’s when that dramatic recession hit and discombobulated people. Now the intent is to do a recalibration of that long-term plan to make sure the focus is on the “housing first” strategy. That’s the intent. There are certain things we know correlate with success. The most important is political will. You have a mayor there who, when she was a city councilmember, was very focused on the issue of homelessness, so you do have political will. The second thing, you have a 10-year plan that’s strategically focused based on business principles and practices. It’s not guess work and anecdote. It’s field-tested and evidence-based.

Here’s a new element: The third thing that we found that’s most important is the involvement of the business community. It’s critical. You need the business mindset. The focus is on performance and outcomes as opposed to the social service mindset, which is too often about the process and services. That’s a huge shift. It’s a serious mindset change to move from process — worrying about how things are — to performance where there are absolute benchmarks that have to be met. The question is now, how many people are no longer homeless as opposed to how many people got served? Anytime that’s a critical part of the plan, you get much better results. In Santa Barbara, the business community is stepping up and wants to make certain that the planning there is focused deliberately on outcomes and performance.

So that’s what you’ll be talking about on Monday? That’s the focus of that day of meetings: the recalibration of the existing plan, the resuscitation of the political will, and the re-involvement of the business community.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Per the economic well being of the '80's, housing prices in S.B. continued to skyrocket. I remember the issue of "rent control"; whatever one thinks of it, it was in response to the rental prices going up up and away. One size does not fit all, and to apply the rules of what goes on in a city which has affordable housing prices for the average person, to a city such as Santa Barbara which has made it abundantly clear to its residents that living there is a special privilage reserved for the highest on the Darwnistic food chain, isn't practical.

Per the Reagan issue I would add that Reagan left the building a long long time ago and that much time has passed to rectify the situation so whether or not Reagan is to blame, (some say the A.C.L.U. is at least partly to blame as well--perhaps this point was addressed by Mr. Mangano when he mentioned policies under J.F.K.) the point is nothing is being done--to quote the article--to put "the genie back into the bottle".

Economics, mental illness, the breakdown of the family, (kids leaving home because Mommy's boyfriend is an abusive creep is one example) the breakdown of the extended family, (the Village concept) are all factors, and again, one size doesn't fit all, but the more we get this issue out on the table, the more likely people won't have to freeze to death on the streets of the most affluent society the world has ever known.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I applaud this process of trying to understand the problem, finding out what works, and treating people humanely --- and not just dismissing the homeless as bums.

"Housing first" has also worked in other countries, and in other areas of California and the US.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2014 at 7:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Detroit is full of empty houses. They are selling for $100 plus. Just look at any of the real estate websites for Detroit .

A new community could be built there because it is a shame to tear down perfectly good housing, with yards and trees when we are spending millions keeping people living on the streets.

Repair the disconnect between these masses of empty housing and the need to put roofs over people's head and let the sort out their lives someplace where they can be sheltered for so little extra expense. Win-win.

People have a right to live in communities free from itinerant street people and we can afford to house all these people in places like Detroit which needs a new repurposing now badly.

Our nation's shelter - Detroit - if they are subsisting on social safety net dollars with no intention or ability to not be dependent on federal handouts, then by all means get them cheap housing that is good and sound that is begging to get a new start with new people.

Recyle - reuse- repurposes but for goodness sake don't keep tearing down homes in Detroit. But them up by the blocks and make new neighborhoods secure for all those now on federal assistance who need shelter.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2014 at 10:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Homeless "Czars"....
SWAT Team slash "social workers"...
Where's this going?

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2014 at 1:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Missed the part about "the cost is $35,000 to $150,000 per person per year".

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2014 at 4:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Detroit needs to become our new Hoovervile. Concentrate services where shelter already exists and is going begging for new occupants. This is doable for what we are spending on disjointed and counter-productive programs that have only grown the numbers of street people.

Enabling people to live endlessly on the streets and in the bushes, or providing permanent shelter and sanctuary where they are tearing down perfectly sound homes. This is a no brainer. It reignites the pioneering spirit in this country.

A non-profit like Homes for People needs to take up this cause. Easy to get donations for $100 homes that can undergird the current social safety net for people now living on the streets. Get these people out of the bushes and doorways.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2014 at 4:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is the Street perspective. Where is the low income/no income housing? I've been homeless in Santa Barbara since October 2010. I'm on a 4 - 8 year waiting list for housing with the city. The county doesn't even take housing aplications. Everyday, I rack my brain trying to find a way out of this dilemma. This housing Czar dude is full of crap, he talks about everything but actually implementing a plan and money source to build SRO housing. Sure he gives it jawbone mention, but that doesn't put one roof over a person. I've talked to Congresswomen Capps and she just looked right though me without a blink and said there is nothing she can do for me. HousingFirst sounds like a good title for a fancy brochure full of false hope, but a name or brochure doesn't put one more roof over a person. The building on the corner of Monticeto Street & State Street would be excellent for SRO housing. Instead, the city will build a hostel for well off foreign students & travelers who have more money in their pocket than any homeless person. Why couldn't we re-purpose this dead rich man's pac with the city, to help those down on their luck. Why, because Santa Barbara doesn't have the will to help the homeless! Footfighter can keep walking, my home (if I should ever find one) is in Santa Barbara. Houses are being torn down in Detroit because there are no jobs there. Sounds like the same dilemma as Santa Barbara. Oh well, sleep well with your mountain and ocean views, pre-Jarvis property taxes and a roof over your head. I'll be sleepless in Santa Barbara another night, thank you very much?

WhereistheLIhousing (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2014 at 6:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

to Whereisthehousing. How about just getting a job and paying for your own housing instead of whining that somehow someone owes you? If the illegals can find work here in Santa Barbara, why can't you?

greghuglin (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 5:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Or maybe move into one of those vacant houses in Detroit. That might be a better fit for you.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 6:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Whereisthehousing: In four to eight years you can get a skills certificate at a community college where you can presently afford to live. Then get a real job that will allow you to buy your own home, where your newly acquired skills can best afford it.

When you daily rack your brain looking for ways out of your presently self-inflicted situation, include the opportunities that are already handed to you in this state that you chosen to reject. Living in the bushes until you get handed free housing is not a plan.

Here is how it has always worked: you get the skills to find the job first, and then a house that fits what you can earn. No other way.

Do tell us how you got on this entitlement train that runs backwards instead?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 9:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How on earth is one supposed to go to college if one is living on the street? Where are the clothes? the water for showering? the money for classes and books? the address for registering? If he/she was employed up until 2010, and writes as well as shown above, it appears that the skills for a job may be there - but not the job.

And from the content of the post it appears that he/she has been trying and not just sitting around doing nothing. As for Detroit, how can one get a house without a job. Those jobs have been shipped overseas by the money-grubbers that want more profit. Nothing American or patriotic about that.

Not one realistic suggestion other than to rake the person over the coals.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 12:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The first entitlements to cut are corporate entitlements that go to the BIG corporations (lotsa Mom and Pop corps.)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 2:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh Tabatha, you are so sheltered. Working and going to college has long been an honored US tradition. Colleges have multiple levels student services to help out too.

I guessed you are just a naive babe in the woods with no real life experience and you prove me correct with every one of your responses. You simply knee jerk any attempt to redirect people from their perpetual victimhood. I suspect you have a proprietary interest in doing exactly that.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 5:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foo: It would be good that you answer Tabatha's questions, one by one.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 5:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tabatha, you missed the point of the Detroit option. These houses are sold for $100 plus dollars. These people are already getting $40,000 in goods, services and cash from the federal social safety net.

They easily spend $100 on just pot and booze in just one week. Instead they can use that discretionary cash to actually buy a home in Detroit. If they buy enough of them together, they will have their own community where they can shelter their lives together while continuing to get their welfare checks AND get out of the bushes.

This is a given and I hope you can wrap your head about it: you can't tear down perfectly good houses in Detroit and have people living in bushes and doorways in California. Same way you can't have millions of illegal immigrants coming across the borders and have high US citizen unemployment at the same time. Likewise you can't take credit for the economic recovery and demand greater unemployment benefits at the same time.

Disconnect, tabatha, disconnect. Spend a little time meditating why you are so heavily invested in perpetual victimology and please share your findings with us. Make 2014 the year of no excuses and then let's talk about it in 2015.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 5:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

foo spend a little time meditating why you are so incredibly invested in whining about public pensions, privatizing education, and insulting immigrants. Oh yea, and I did work my way through college for several degrees, but I wasn't homeless, which is the point of the article. And with your clairvoyance you just know "They easily spend $100 on just pot and booze in just one week. " Feelin the itch there brother, go ahead, move to Detroit and get that pot and booze in just one week: your dream, foo.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2014 at 6:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why does Philip Mangano give such short shrift to Santa Barbara's efforts to deal with homeless while extolling Pasadena's and "10 Southern Cal cities" efforts? I hope he visits Casa Esperanza and meets with those in the community who have spent their own financial resources and time to address this problem. Sure we can and should be doing more. Has anyone noticed that at least on State street, it's the same local, entirely white, predominantly female who are tolerated (SB's boutique homeless), while the rest are harassed and ticketed out of town?

jeffyo (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 10:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What I've learned from this comment section is that apparently we need to create a concentration camp for homeless people in Detroit :-/

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 10:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

WhereistheLIhousing, your plight is so felt by many who also feel the world owes them all they deserve because after all, the meek shall inherit the Earth. BULLPUCKY!
Down on your luck? Sleepless in Santa Barbara another night? Santa Barbara doesn't have the will to help the homeless? Capps and nothing she can do for you? No jobs in Santa Barbara as in Detroit, MI?
Dude, the theme that rings here is some people's bad choices are everybody else's fault.
Your "street perspective" smacks of the "oh woe is me" victim mentality that is so prevalent in all those "travelers" we hard working people encounter on State Street, off ramps & business driveways.
Face it, you're "houseless" which is different than homeless. You want a house that others will provide and maintain for you. Ain't gonna happen friend.
Want to know why Santa Barbara will build a hostel for well-off foreign students & travelers who have more money in their pocket than any homeless person? Because they would actually CONTRIBUTE to the system that supports the taxes that feed and house people like yourself.
As for Detroit, MI and all that rubbish, the MAIN reasons "travelers" won't go there are because the weather in the fall, winter and spring is not favorable to the traveler lifestyle, there IS actually work to be done and you have to earn your keep.
No jobs in Santa Barbara? Really? My wife got laid off from her job at a hotel recently, she went on unemployment for a couple of weeks, all the time applying for work and guess what? She's working again.
In all, you're the epitome of the "compassionate forward thinking socialist" that wants to benefit from everyone else's efforts, work and contribution so you can live comfortably.
All good and cute and all, until you run out of other people's money. So far the "traveler" ilk has worn the patience of the working class out.
By the way, come on out with the "traveler" lifestyle to Old Town Goleta and see how long you last.
You'd be lucky if even the so-called "illegal immigrants" who live there will give you the time of day, much more their spare change and free housing. Want to know why they won't? Because like any hard working person, THEY WORK FOR HAT THEY HAVE. You should try that some time, you'd be amazed how well that works.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 11:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You got this exactly right: make Detroit's $100 homes available to those referred "homeless" and living on tax payer-supported public assistance.

This is an immediately viable alternative to living in bushes and door ways anywhere else. It is a splendid opportunity to put roofs over the heads of a lot of people. This opportunity may not come along again.

Living on the streets, in bushes, riverbanks, cars, RVs, parks and doorways is not viable. Period.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 11:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

But foo, if they get that housing they seek, there would be rules to follow and the "traveler lifestyle" doesn't play well with rules.
That is THE main reason the "travelers" don't want to get in a shelter, you can't party and lights out is 10:00 pm, not much of a party eh?
By the way, in my post I am NOT referring to the mentally ill, they're the people that REALLY need the help.
Want to know who doesn't? The people that have nuked every bridge they crossed to the point that nobody from their past wants to deal with them because all they bring is trouble and drama.
Even the closest family and friends can deal with that for a little bit then all bets are off.
We had an uncle like that, a total drunk. had an awesome job in the trades, but one day the party lifestyle became more important which then led to the traveler lifestyle which is what he chooses to live now.
Ever since the guy has destroyed any and all ties with family and friends who tried to help with his idiot behavior, all the time expecting everyone "who's hearts he touched" to foot the bill for him every step of the way.
Our family and friends finally said NO MORE, he got banished and guess what? Everyone's life got better.
So this leads me to ask the following: What ever happened to that "survey of the homeless in Santa Barbara County? Did all the results get published? Did anything even come of it?
I didn't see the end result, maybe just didn't look, but if it wasn't published I can name a MULTITUDE of reasons why it wasn't.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 1:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When they purchase their own home in Detroit for $100, they can carry on how ever they want as long as they confine their activities to their own new four walls. And clean up after themselves, so they don't burn the neighborhood down.

There is freedom when one owns their own home. This is a solution waiting to solve a major problem. It should not be ignored. Diversion to Detroit.

Own you own home. Save your own life. And be free to be all you want to be, on your own terms. Just make it off the public streets, bushes, parks, and creeks. What is not to like about this?

There is no way we can build shelter for $100 a head. And there it is in Detroit, waiting to get torn down. Crazy.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 2:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The best way to end our "homeless" problem is to offer this population group the Detroit homes for $100.

If they refuse this offer, we no longer have a homeless problem. We then have another problem, but it can no longer be called "homelessness".

Then we have an illegal camping problem with their abiding public health and safety dimensions that require consequences when in violation. But it is no longer "homelessness" .

It goes a long way to place those who want homes into these $100 Detroit homes, and then evaluate the remainder population who are officially no longer "homeless".

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 2:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I see where you're going.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 3:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Philip Mangano: "I was struck by the number of homeless people living on the streets. I felt that Santa Barbara, for its size, had a disproportionate number of homeless people for such a beautiful community."
Favorable year-round weather, plenty of contributors/enablers/providers, an established community of other "travelers" in town, plenty of programs in place, politically correct approach to all matters law enforcement, plenty of booze or other party favors, IT IS PARADISE!
Like I mentioned earlier, lets see some details about that "homeless assessment survey" that was recently done.
How many are from out of town? How did they get here? What got them to come here? Lets see some answers.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"It goes a long way to place those who want homes into these $100 Detroit homes, and then evaluate the remainder population who are officially no longer "homeless"."

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 2:57 p.m.

Foo, (and everyone else) take thirteen seconds to listen to this You Tube byte totally refuting your argument about Detroit.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
February 24, 2014 at 8:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mangano speaks the truth about deinstitutionalization's failures. Liberals wanted a more humane treatment program; conservatives wanted less money spent. Once again the liberals lost. Decades later we continue to fund hugely expensive jail and prison systems to house the mentally disabled in the worst and most inefficient manner. SB is planning to build a monstrous jail/prison in the north county. The BOS needs to get some backbone, stand up to the Sheriff and take some of this money back to fund both more locked care mental health beds, mental health clinics and professional support outside of the jail setting. You can help by signing this petition.

RHS (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2014 at 9:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

RHS, good points, but seriously, in this neck of the woods what you got locked up for the most part is criminals who have committed crimes like assault, robbery, burglary, rape & these clowns ARE PREDATORY.
I am NOT talking pot dealers here, but UNFORTUNATELY they're part of that population too, but they're not predators.
The "mentally ill" component behind bars is a fractional component in this region, but those that are in there are preyed upon by the predatory criminals on a number of levels.
I personally saw it happen to a neighbor friend of mine, he got locked up for a schizophrenia induced act and while under lockup in general population he told his tale of woe to fellow in mates.
He said to them that he had this beautiful house, but the government was out to take it from him, mainly the police.
Next thing you know, some of these genpop scum are making a few calls to their fellow scum on the loose and they take over his abandoned house, turn it into a party/crash pad with a meth lab to boot.
Now you have a once nice and quiet neighborhood become a criminal infested blight zone.
He eventually got put on meds and released, but refused to cooperate with the police to evict the squatters, checked into a hotel where he lived until he died of heart complications.
When he died the state took control of his property, tried to notify family, but they wanted nothing to do with it so the property went into probate, the criminal scum was kicked out and it eventually got sold.
I hear your point, but seriously, it seems to me that the mentally ill component in our county jail is a fractional number in comparison to our lovely repeat offender hardcore criminals (AGAIN, NOT POT DEALERS!).
And yes, I do agree that the environment the mentally ill are exposed to in said system is deplorable, inhumane and cruel.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2014 at 10:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Blah--the SBSO says at least 20% of their inmate population is in need of mental health care. Most jails say it is more like 40%. Yes, some of these inmates are dangerous and should be kept securely in place but most do not need this level of security. The jail is just about the worst place to try to provide mental health care. And they have no follow-up when the inmate is released. For a portion of the jail per inmate cost we could build locked care facilities that would work. or a fractions of the jail inmate cost we could provide clinics that work. Long term and short term savings plus humane treatment.

RHS (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2014 at 11:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I disagree on the term "mentally ill" here. You could call a shoplifter or thief "mentally ill" because you can attribute such behavior to kleptomania.
But still, I agree that TRUE mentally ill need what you say: Humane treatment.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2014 at 5:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My brother is homeless in Santa Barbara, there by choice because he does not want to work. Having spent all of his money in Las Vegas years ago, he then came back home to SB looking for more or to have someone that he knew take him in. Nobody did. There is nothing that you can do for him to get him off of the streets, it is all that he knows now.

wtf_U_say (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2014 at 8:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Santa Barbara could be the finest town in the world

Instead it's been destroyed by the transients taking over

And the pathetic wimpy city council
More concerned about strangers from
Out of town than locals who deserve

Kids who grew up here can't even REALLY
feel safe in their own town!

And we wonder why they get guarded and snobby
or too jaded and do drugs?

They have lost their sense of pride of place

What a tragedy

Kwaterhouse1 (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2015 at 1:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I want underground utilities; not above ground squatter camps.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2015 at 2:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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