Every two years, the people living without a regular roof over their heads are counted in a person-by-person census in their abodes beside the highways, under bridges, or in other sheltered out-of-the-way spots throughout Santa Barbara County. Around 500 volunteers have stepped up to join nurses, doctors, and social workers for the past several counts, and this year’s canvassers include people who have experience with homelessness. More volunteer are still needed to help with the Homeless Point-in-Time Count scheduled for Thursday, January 24, 5-8:30 a.m.
Training to participate takes place in advance in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Lompoc, Carpinteria, Santa Maria, and Goleta. Instruction will be held between Monday, January 14 and, Tuesday January 22, either in the evening or mid-day. For the full list, to volunteer, or for more information, go to liveunitedsbc.org.
In 2017, 1,489 people were counted living rough, compared to 1,454 two years before. Of the most recent count, 931 people were in the South County, and 558 were in North County. The largest number, 790, called Santa Barbara home, while 338 were in Santa Maria and 219 in Lompoc. This year’s count is sponsored by several agencies, including the County of Santa Barbara, the Home for Good nonprofit under the wing of the Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, and Common Ground S.B. County.
The information gained through the count not only informs county officials of housing needs locally, it helps get funding from federal Housing and Urban Development for both housing and medical care.