Casa Esperanza, a Santa Barbara-based homeless shelter, announced Tuesday that it will have to stop providing meal services to people not staying in its residential facility because funding is needed to sustain core programs.
Officials at Casa Esperanza, 816 Cacique St., released a statement saying the organization will halt its Community Kitchen lunch program, as well as its drop-in services, as of Sept. 3.
After almost 25 years of serving meals to the homeless, the Community Kitchen has suffered a lack of sustainable funding, and the organization announced it will be focusing all of its energy and resources on its 24-hour residential shelter and transitional programs.
The program will continue to serve meals to those living at Casa Esperanza within the 24-hour residential shelter and medical shelter programs.
“While Casa Esperanza’s board and management are proud of their compassionate record of service to the community’s poor, the support necessary to continue these services has not materialized," the Rev. Mark Asman, Casa Esperanza board president, said in the statement. "The center is at a crisis level right now and in great need of immediate financial support in order to meet the needs of our community today. In order to preserve critical core programs, we have had to make these difficult decisions to close the day center drop-in services and suspend the Community Kitchen lunch program so that Casa Esperanza can stay open and thrive beyond the substantial immediate need.”
The statement also announced that all of Casa Esperanza's programming is now sobriety-based, which will allow an "increase in the number of people who move from homelessness to housing by increasing their ability to succeed in the shelter environment.
"Through this change, Casa Esperanza will have the ability to continue providing 48,000 bed-nights of safety and care to the homeless in a sobriety-based environment."
The shelter said it would work with local government, other homelessness and human services organizations, and neighborhood groups to prepare for the potential impact of the day center drop-in services closure.
“As we begin our second decade of service to the community, we are proactively adapting to a more successful formula than attempting to serve all populations under one roof,” said Mike Foley, Casa Esperanza’s executive director. “It is heartbreaking to release the vital programming we so strongly believe in, but taking on debt to support unsustainable services is not a way forward.
"Our lifesaving 24-hour shelter program is one-of-a-kind on the Central Coast that deserves 100 percent of our community’s investment and support.”
The shelter is asking to the community to help house the homeless by donating to Casa Esperanza at P.O. Box 24116, Santa Barbara 93121, or donating online by clicking here.