Santa Barbara Supes Approve New Homeless Village
Tiny Cabins for 90 Residents to Be Built on Hollister Avenue
After hearing from about 50 speakers — all intensely pro or con — the county supervisors voted unanimously to approve a contract that will result in the creation of a tiny-home community of 90 prefabricated cabins at 4500 Hollister Avenue. On the site of the county’s former Juvenile Hall, it will serve as interim supportive housing for the homeless people currently dwelling in 47 encampments nearby.
Named La Posada, the project is a joint collaboration of DignityMoves, Good Samaritan, and the County of Santa Barbara. The news of the project was sprung on neighborhood residents just last week, and many who testified bristled at the suddenness. Others contested county homeless czar Kimberlee Albers’s statement that there are no immediate neighbors to the proposed village. Though most neighbors praised the project’s objective, many suggested a better location would be on the county’s social services campus near the jail. Four preschools and the Page Youth Center are located nearby, and one father of three young daughters expressed alarm that the proposed project is three times bigger than the DignityMoves village — also managed by Good Samaritan — on the 1000 block of Santa Barbara Street that opened last August. Supervisor Das Williams replied that he has two young daughters himself, saying that makes him “two-thirds as crazy” as the speaker.
All the supervisors praised DignityMoves and Good Samaritan for the pains they have taken to be the best of neighbors at their downtown project. Residents there each have a cabin, with air-conditioning, heating, and a door they can lock. They are bombarded with supportive services to help calm their nervous systems, frayed after living in the perpetual state of fight-or-flight needed to survive on the streets. Pets and partners are allowed, but no visitors. Curfews are strictly enforced, as are rules against drinking or drugs on the premises. Sheriff Bill Brown weighed in strongly in favor of the new proposal, noting that for the many times he’d driven by the downtown village, he’d never seen any loitering.
Many other speakers voiced strong support for the project, including several parents whose children attend a charter school nearby. Supervisor Laura Capps, who represents the district, said she will continue meeting with residents to hammer out the details of the management contract, which has yet to be signed. “This is tough,” she said. “This is where the rubber meets the road. But this is a moral obligation I was elected to do.” Supervisors Joan Hartmann, Steve Lavagnino, Bob Nelson, and Das Williams have all voted for similar projects — already built or in the pipeline — in their own districts. This marks the third major project developed by DignityMoves in conjunction with Good Samaritan and the County of Santa Barbara.