The City of Santa Barbara has joined a regional effort to help the homeless by consolidating three existing entities into one unified program.
It will use a “collective impact” model to connect all of the stakeholders under one structure.
Santa Barbara has also contributed $75,000 — and more from its Housing Authority — to the effort, and other cities will be asked to contribute funds as they join.
The Northern Santa Barbara County United Way is the fiscal agent for the program, and already has received $250,000 from the county, city and foundations.
C3H also creates a coordination committee, will include department heads from the county and law enforcement who will set the program’s priorities and spearhead data-collection efforts.
There’s already an Executive Oversight Committee headed by Rob Pearson, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara.
“We know what was done in the past has not worked” and was too disjointed, Pearson said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, adding that working in a more organized way should help resources get used effectively and more efficiently.
The city hosts the bulk of available homeless housing services, and has pursued many programs on its own, including restorative court and specialized police officers and outreach workers who try to connect homeless people with family members and services.
In a sentiment shared by others, Councilman Bendy White said he was happy to see that other cities would be asked to pay their fair share for the programs.
Housing with support services is a big part of the solution, Pearson said, adding that “we can’t just build our way out of this.”
Francisco suggested a change to the C3H agreement’s vision statement, which was approved by the council after some debate. The original statement said the purpose was to better use resources to house vulnerable people living on the street, and he argued to change it to reflect the impact on the overall community.
Several council members expressed concern that the existing statement focused too narrowly on housing, and needed to consider a broader range of solutions.
Francisco’s suggestion, which was ultimately approved by council and now will be looked over by the city attorney, was for the vision statement to be: promoting a more efficient use of resources to reduce homelessness, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable and the needs of the community.
City staff said the Executive Oversight Committee can discuss the matter at its meeting on Wednesday.