Pixel Tracker

Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 12:43 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara’s ‘Real Change’ Campaign for Homeless Coming Up Far Short

Officials cite a 'disappointing' lack of participation by local businesses; Casa Esperanza needs $40,000 by April 1 or its outreach program is likely to close

The “Real Change, Not Spare Change” alternative giving program launched in Santa Barbara with fanfare and optimism last April. The educational campaign encourages people to donate to street outreach programs instead of handing money directly to panhandlers, and the program created countertop donation boxes for local businesses to display.

But there’s been a “disappointing” lack of participation by local businesses, according to Mike Foley, executive director of the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center and Community Kitchen.

“If the entire city doesn’t embrace the idea, it won’t change — more money will go into police and the county jail, and we’ll still get a lot of panhandling,” Foley said.

Since April 2010, the campaign has raised less than $4,000 in donations, with most of that coming from two “Real Change Days” when businesses donated a percentage of sales or a flat amount. The campaign’s Web site lists just 16 participating organizations and businesses, many of which aren’t places frequented by the general public.

The City of Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency funded the program with a $75,000 grant last spring, and the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization and SurfMedia Communications have spent about $50,000 on informational advertisements since then, according to Mary Lynn Harms, the Downtown Organization’s marketing director.

The Downtown Organization manages SurfMedia’s marketing contract, and the city reviews the DO’s actions through meetings with RDA Director Brian Bosse. Most of the funds were spent on local signage and public service announcements, and Bosse said the campaign is now pursuing materials in hotels to educate tourists.

“As long as cash is available on the street, there will be people to ask for it,” Foley said.

Funds from the program are spent on local street outreach programs, but he said the largest one is “about to close.”

Foley told Noozhawk on Monday that Casa Esperanza’s outreach program needs $40,000 by April 1 or the program will dissolve. The two paid staff members work six days a week, and the program costs $70,000 for the both of them.

The marketing campaign is considered phase one, but it’s unclear whether there will be a next step. The $75,000 will be spent by the end of the fiscal year, and the City Council may or may not allocate more to the project, so Bosse said a phase two hasn’t been developed.

“We’re kind of breaking new ground there, so with each step we have to analyze it,” he said.

One idea thrown about has been exterior, parking meter-like boxes on the street for donations, but Bosse said there are potential problems of vandalism or theft.

The City Council hasn’t formally discussed continuing the program, but Mayor Helene Schneider said “it’s obvious that it’s needed,” in combination with restorative policing in the downtown area.

She said no community organization has taken a leadership role, and voluntary participation is extremely low, so it’s unclear who makes the next move — but that the conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later.

“Honestly, if we don’t have the enthusiasm from businesses or the Downtown Organization, it won’t work,” Schneider said. “It needs to be a true partnership. It’s not something the city can or should do on its own.”

With participation from businesses essential, she said it makes sense to have merchants and business organizations involved in leadership.

“At the end of the day, what you need are willing participants up and down State Street to get the message out,” Schneider said. “No PSA is as effective.”

To Get Involved

» For posters, countertop donation boxes or other signage for your business, contact the Downtown Organization at 805.962.2098 x25 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Making a $5 donation by texting “CHANGESB” to 85944.

» Donate money directly to Casa Esperanza at 816 Cacique St. or 805.884.8481.

» Participating organizations and businesses with countertop boxes are the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau, Tri-County Produce, Indigo Interiors, Double Dolphin, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Casa Magazine, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, Trinity Episcopal Church, Paradise Found, Santa Cruz Market, Pascucci, Los Arroyos, Home Improvement Center, Santa Barbara Pistachio Company, Golden Eagle Tattoo and the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >