After an Independent article outlined Supervisor Das Williams’s concerns about changes at PATH [People Assisting the Homeless] and construction at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, with the urging of City Councilmember Jason Dominguez, C3H convened a group of stakeholders that included representatives from PATH, Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, New Beginnings Counseling Center, the City of Santa Barbara, Das Williams’s office, the Freedom Warming Center, as well as Councilmember Dominguez.
The consensus of the group was that this bed shortage may present some challenges, and many of the winter shelter customers are not seeking programmatic support and generally have other options for winter shelter. Evidence of this was that over 90 PATH program participants are repeat users of the Winter Shelter and reports from the group that demands for services to do not increase when the shelters close in the spring.
The Freedom Warming Center also reported that while their capacity on any given night is 80 beds, they rarely reached this number and averaged about 65 beds per night.
The group agreed to closely monitor this situation and to reconvene in December to discuss what was being observed.
Chuck Flacks is executive director of C3H, the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness.