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County Supervisors to Discuss Warming Centers for Homeless

Board will receive a report on the shelters' activities and protocols as winter weather approaches

As the weather begins to cool and the rain becomes more of an issue on the South Coast, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will discuss on Tuesday how to care for the homeless as they face the elements of the coming winter.

Rainy and cold weather was an issue last winter in the homeless community, and 300 to 400 people still would have nowhere to go even if all of the county’s shelter beds were utilized, according to John Buttny then-executive director of Bringing Our Community Home, who spoke to the supervisors on the issue at a meeting in February.

The supervisors will receive and file a report on homeless warming center activities and protocols on Tuesday, and hold a public hearing about the issue.

The item was continued from the Oct. 19 meeting, and county staff presented an overview on the shelters earlier this year. The supervisors directed them to work with other cities in the county to explore funding for the centers and to examine protocols from other areas.

The board designated $51,781 to Bringing Our Community Home, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Santa Barbara County, to help assist volunteer efforts to operate the warming shelters.

The nonprofit is in the process of developing a plan for this winter for shelters in both north and south county. The shelters would be activated under three combined conditions — two consecutive days of rain, temperatures below 40 degrees and a forecast of cold predicted below 35 degrees.

County staff have reported previously that it costs about $243 to operate each shelter per night, breaking down to $18 per person, per night.

The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara is the lead agency for the effort and will operate warming centers on the South Coast. Plans are under way to raise additional funds to expand the number of people the shelters could hold.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Board Hearing Room of the county Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @laraanncooper or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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