The Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting this Tuesday to discuss Phase II of the Community Action Plan to Address Homelessness, which intends to create a unified response to reducing homelessness throughout the Santa Barbara region.
On a single night in January 2020, data shows, there were almost 1,900 people experiencing homelessness across the county, 64 percent of whom were living unsheltered. The plan outlines strategies to reduce that number, such as increasing both temporary and permanent beds. The plan also seeks to aid more vulnerable populations ― veterans, youth, families ― in finding housing.
Phase I was completed in 2018. It identified five key areas of improvement ― increasing access to affordable housing, using best practices to deliver support services, building a collective action plan, strengthening support systems to help residents obtain housing, and working to address the needs of specific populations in the county.
The Santa Barbara Continuation of Care Program (CoC) received more than $2 million from the state in 2019 to address homelessness, the highest award they’ve received to date. Along with CoC funding, the county has a total of nearly $40 million in annual funding — from both the private and public sector — to tackle the issue.
The Phase II community action plan emphasizes the need for a “regionally unified response” with coordination between various cities and organizations in the county that focus not only on homelessness but also on health care, criminal justice, employment, education, and transportation, according to the plan.
Along with providing services, the plan seeks to address the deeper structural issues that create homelessness in the first place, such as poverty, income inequality, and affordable housing.
Because Phase II of the plan was created before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community “will need to reassess and adjust the plan as Santa Barbara County moves forward and as the region rebuilds,” a staff report states. Some immediate goals to address COVID-19 among homeless populations are to establish non-congregate sheltering for individuals at high risk for COVID-19 complications and to provide more rental assistance.
The Board of Supervisors livestream will be available on the county website and YouTube, and those who wish to make public comment about the community action plan can register for the Zoom webinar or submit comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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