Santa Barbara’s homeless shelter, known as PATH Casa Esperanza, will open its doors for expanded winter services this Thursday and remain that way until April 1, 2017. During winter months, the shelter doubles the number of guests it can accommodate, jumping from 100 to 200.
This will mark the second year the shelter has been managed by PATH, a nonprofit provider out of Los Angeles that imposes stricter rules and offers more services. For example, the shelter requires guests to show proof of residency in Santa Barbara County as part of a “local preference” policy. In addition, all guests are required to submit to random searches and breathalyzer tests. It also attempts to provide a wider array of “wraparound” services — counseling, mental health, medical, legal, and job assistance.
Relations between previous shelter operators and neighboring businesses — upset over guests, some inebriated and wandering nearby streets — achieved critical mass several years ago about the same time that shelter bank reserves plummeted. PATH was brought in. This is PATH’s second winter of operation. Tessa Madden, former development director, was recently made general manager as PATH’s previous manager Jessica Wishan left to take a job with Red Cross.