La Posada Will Be a Temporary Home to Homeless People Already Living in the Area
New Shelter Follows the Successful One in Downtown Santa Barbara
Homelessness is among the most vexing issues facing our county. Due to a myriad of factors, including our record-setting high rents, nearly 2,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. Most live in places that are unstructured, unsafe, and unhealthy such as streets, along riverbeds, on the beach, and in encampments. I often hear from constituents about the need to come up with solutions to our homeless problem that work. The public has been begging for solutions. I am committed to working with the community to find them; I was elected to try my best.
We are blessed with many nonprofits dedicated to this goal as well. Thankfully, Dignity Moves and Good Samaritan have partnered with the county on a temporary homeless shelter in downtown Santa Barbara that is proving to be tremendously successful. Since it opened in August, of the 35 people living there, 12 have been placed in permanent housing. Many neighbors had concerns about the project before it started only to be supporters of it now. The shelter is located in close proximity to thousands of school children; there have been zero problems with safety.
The success and improved neighborhood safety of the Santa Barbara project has given us confidence to expand. The next county project is in Santa Maria, and the third will be off of Hollister at the old Juvenile Hall site between Santa Barbara and Goleta, in the district I represent. I’d like to provide some information about this third project, called La Posada, that I hope will be helpful.
(1) Goal number one is a safer community. I understand how critical it is to feel safe in your own neighborhood, especially if you are raising children. I am a mom to a young son and represented the area for six years as a school board member; children and their safety is my top concern.
- The location of the La Posada site was chosen because there are 60-90 people experiencing homelessness living directly in the neighborhood right now. This isn’t about transporting homeless individuals into the community — these folks already live in the exact area of the site.
- This project will get them out of the encampments and into a safe environment for them and for the residents of the neighborhood. Getting people off the streets will make our roads, schools, and neighborhoods safer for our children and everyone, as well as giving them the help they need.
- The facility will have round-the-clock security, cameras, intensive services, and transportation, which means that no one will be able to walk to and from the site.
- Currently there are none of those safeguards, yet there are 60-90 people living unsheltered. Good Samaritan and Dignity Moves will now be active partners in making the surrounding neighborhoods more secure.
- As mentioned, the proof is in the pudding with the success of the first project: Thanks to Good Samaritan’s diligent work, the homeless population in downtown Santa Barbara has been reduced and adjacent neighbors have had no complaints or issues.
(2) Goal number two is to remove encampments from the area. As the law dictates, we can only begin the encampment removal process if we have adequate shelter beds. Providing adequate facilities allows us to reduce the number of encampments in this area and throughout the county. This addresses the liability of potential fires, excess trash, and debris in our open spaces. In 2018 there was a fire in this encampment. Encampments are unsafe and unhealthy for everyone.
(3) Goal number three is to help people in dire need of critical services. Fundamentally I believe it is our moral responsibility to help those in the greatest need and the most vulnerable among us. It is a matter of life or death. This was the way I was raised and the way I govern as Supervisor.
Thank you to so many who have reached out in support and offered help and resources. I acknowledge the legitimate concerns that some have about this project and am committed to working with you to address them. I am proud of all the work that has gone into this project before my term began. It is my belief that La Posada will help us forge a safer, more humane, and more cohesive community.
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