It’s been six months since the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved a program to streamline homeless services, and already that effort is reaping rewards, according to staff and public comment on Tuesday.
Last June, the board unanimously approved the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, or C3H, a new structure that would centralize homeless efforts and create a new position to coordinate those efforts.
Prior to the change, multiple county departments, as well as dozens of nonprofits and private groups, worked with the homeless.
As a result, duplication of services and lack of communication impeded efforts to actually bring people off the streets.
While the effort is still nascent, county staff and participants in C3H are upbeat about the progress.
Since last summer, a policy council has been established that includes elected officials from the county, as well as the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Santa Maria, Buellton and Lompoc.
They’ll be meeting for the first time on Feb. 14. Over the next several months, the policy council meet and will set goals and priorities.
An executive oversight committee also was established, and the United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County was brought on as the group’s fiscal agent.
Jeff Shaffer was hired as a coordinator for the effort and began that job in November. Shaffer was one of several people instrumental in coordinating the point in time count last month, which surveyed homeless people across the county in order to prioritize them for housing according to their needs.
After witnessing over 600 volunteers come forward for the count, “I am very enthusiastic about what lies ahead,” Shaffer said.
County Public Health Dr. David Lennon said that the volunteers made contact with 1,445 homeless individuals this year, and have been able to house 117 people since the last survey was done in 2011.
Lennon also said homeless deaths have decreased by 25 percent since 2009.
C3H has secured a $250,000 budget for the year, with $75,000 coming from the County, $75,000 from the city of Santa Barbara, $25,000 from Second Story Associates, and $75,000 from the Santa Barbara Foundation.