With homelessness achieving critical mass yet again throughout Santa Barbara, members of the City Council voted, yet again, to allocate large sums of cash to help deal with it. The council set aside a large chunk of the $861,000 in human services grants underwritten by the federal Community Development Block Grant funds for organizations dealing with homelessness. This reflects a funding priority the council declared late last October as the numbers of people on the streets, in the parks, and in encampments was becoming an urgent issue. In a separate vote, the council also approved to use another half a million dollars from a federal program dedicated to help people either stay housed or to get re-housed.
The big recipients of this money were New Beginnings and its Safe Parking Program, which provides structured parking lot settings for people living in their vehicles; Transition House; and a Housing Authority program designed to find shelter for chronically homeless individuals and their families. Much of this money will be used to provide rental assistance — from 12 to 24 months — for tenants who could not otherwise afford to keep a roof over their heads.
Beneficiaries of the block-grant funding include, Transition House, New Beginnings, Organic Soup Kitchen, Rental Housing Mediation Program, Willbridge House, St. Vincent’s, and PATH Santa Barbara homeless shelter on Cacique Street. (It should be noted that much of the $1.7 million in total block-grant funding that the council dispensed this Tuesday went to organizations with a wide range of agendas, chief among them people seeking refuge from violence, whether domestic or gang-related.)