Homeless Initiative On Eastside
There’s a new pop-up center to help the Eastside’s Homeless population and community organizer Jeff Shaffer is calling on East siders to reach out and help in any way they can.
“It would be wonderful if local residents could organize through their churches to provide a breakfast meal. Or for individuals to just volunteer to sit and talk”
The Neighborhood Navigation Center opened its doors at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission in March and is open on Wednesdays from 8am-10am. It will offer medical services, mental health support and case management as well as providing basic needs like food and clothing. More services may be added later.
There are similar centers at Alameda Park on Thursdays and at Carillo/Castillo on Tuesdays. For many homeless carrying their entire wardrobes and sleeping gear with them makes travelling difficult, so creating more local centers helps people get to as many services as possible at one time. It also helps service providers to reach as many people as efficiently as possible and in the case of the East side up to fifty people a week are expected to take advantage of one or more of the services on offer.
“In our hearts we all know that every homeless person is human and is suffering.”
A recent count found over 820 people were homeless in Santa Barbara City and there are roughly 230-250 shelter beds available at five local centers. Community groups like Shaffer’s SB ACT are working with the city to add another 260. And even if they get to that number, there’s still going to be a shortfall.
But as well as fighting to provide everyone with at least a bed for the night, there’s also a need to limit the impact of homelessness on communities. Eastside Society President Tino De Guevara has been pushing on both sides of the problem. The Society’s call for the council to act over encampments at the Cacique Street underpass led to seven people being rehoused. And the Society’s advocacy also helped lead to stronger enforcement with “No Sit, no Lie” Ordinance which can be used as an incentive by enforcement agencies to move people on. The local shelter PATH has also appointed an outreach coordinator who makes periodic tours of the neighborhood to assess and offer a range of services.
“People rightly get angry because they see the negative effects of homelessness on their communities, and they do not see any action being taken. This is a very complex issue. But doing nothing is not an option”
Both De Guevara and Shaffer agree while enforcement answers a valid need for protection, laws aimed at curbing the negative impacts will not solve the problem of homelessness. So, what does?
Jeff Shaffer has three wishes.
First and foremost, let’s all just acknowledge the homeless are people. Make eye contact, say hello.
We need additional housing. But housing with support and wrap around services to help people overcome the traumas of having been homeless.
And finally, the most intangible. Prevention. Everyone should be able to afford a roof over their head.
Eastside President Tino De Guevarra writes: The Eastside Society has taken an active interest on the scourge of homelessness in our community. On the one hand our initiative directly led to the housing of seven individuals who had been living on the streets. On the other hand, we’ve been strongly involved in measures to pass the no sit, no lie ordinance , to post no camping signs in the Milpas and Cacique underpasses and to limit the sale of alcohol miniatures.
If you would like to learn more or volunteer, make a donation, or generally support those involved in the fight against homelessness, then check out these organizations. We aren’t perfect and we may have missed some important groups, and if you think other groups should be on here, then contact us.
Organizations providing shelter beds
SB RESCUE MISSION
DOCTORS WITHOUT WALLS
SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS
Tiny Homes provider
Outreach and case management
Safe parking for homeless living in vehicles
TO REPORT AN ENCAMPMENT
Co-ordination and umbrella group
In this report, we used the figure of 820 homeless in Santa Barbara from a recent census taken in March 2022. More accurate figures on how many are living in sheltered accommodation, or vehicles or are sleeping without shelter should now be available for both the city and county
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