City Net — Santa Barbara’s street outreach organization — hosted a job fair specifically directed toward members of the city’s homeless population at Franklin Neighborhood Center this Friday morning.
The line trailed out the door as about 50 members of the homeless population in the city queued for free haircuts, raffle tickets, pizza, and even free government phones while they stopped by the booths inside to hear more about new job opportunities.
Orion Brutoco, City Net’s regional housing supervisor, explained that in the past year, his organization assisted 91 homeless individuals off the streets of Santa Barbara and into housing. Of these, 40 received a Section 8 voucher through the city Housing Authority, a federal program for assisting low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities to afford safe and decent housing.
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A variety of employers and other outreach organizations set up their tables at the community center to assist applicants with creating a résumé or job applications. But they were also looking to hire people on the spot. Those included the Department of Rehabilitation, Goodwill, and New Beginnings, among others.
One attendee related that he experienced homelessness after the pandemic shut down his entire life. “We were never looking for a handout,” Brandon Miller said. “Only looking for a hand up.”
Two years later, Miller actively participates in the Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation (S.B. ACT) and says that he and his partner, Jenn Shappee, joined to advocate for the homeless population they were a part of so recently. By assertively verbalizing the issues they knew too well, they believe the community will come together to support homeless individuals.