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Homeless Program Finds Shelter for City’s Most Needy

$2.2 Million, Multiagency Effort Brings Together Police, Cottage, and Outreach Workers

A homeless man sleeps on a bench on Anapamu Street. | Credit: Paul Wellman

To date, 12 of the top 50 homeless individuals targeted by Santa Barbara City Hall for focused assistance ​— ​by virtue of the high service volume they generate ​— ​have managed to find shelter with assistance from a $2.2 million, multi-agency homeless program funded by state homeless grants. Of those, some moved in with families or friends; how long they will stay is not clear.

After being on the streets just over a month, outreach workers with what’s called S.B. Connect Home have contacted 14 of the 50 most vulnerable. The program, funded as part of a state initiative to address chronic homelessness, brings together for the first time Santa Barbara police, Cottage Hospital, and a crew of three outreach workers run by CityNet, an Orange County–based nonprofit.

There have been some missteps; the outreach nurse promised by Cottage to perform co-response duties with city restorative cops has yet to be hired. While Cottage has begun recruiting, there’s a statewide shortage of nurses.

The city’s grant creates no new housing; instead, the plan is to bombard the most vulnerable with outreach and referrals to services that will lead to shelter and eventually housing. As of last week, outreach workers have recorded 100 interactions and made more than 38 referrals for such services as housing applications, food stamps, birth-certificate applications, Social Security applications, and transportation assistance. The program is also working with 14 “complex individuals” with high needs.

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