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Letter to the Editor: Setting the Record Straight on Homeless

In a recent Santa Barbara News-Press editorial, the writer wondered whether Santa Barbara is becoming an RV mecca. Many of the statements are misinformed regarding the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and RV parkers.

It is true that we have a homeless problem. In fact, every major city in America faces this issue. Homeless providers in our community have developed a well-coordinated effort to deal with the problem, however, and our city has tackled the issue with a current task force with a four-prong approach. Nationwide, recent studies show that chronic homelessness has been reduced through such efforts.

The countywide 10-year plan is attacking chronic homelessness. Yes, the 10-year plan is geared toward the 10 percent to 15 percent of those who are homeless because they are the chronic ones. A 2006 county report showed that our community spends $36 million a year dealing with the homeless problem. An entire 50 percent is spent on that 10 percent to 15 percent of the population.

Does it make sense to attack the worst part of the problem first? Does this meet the truth-in-advertising request that the News-Press makes? Is the 10-year plan working? We think the plan is working. In the past year, Transition House, Casa Esperanza, Good Samaritan and Bridge House report that 107 families and 48 individuals have been placed in housing. In addition, 71 chronically homeless have been placed in transitional housing, saving the county an estimated $1.1 million.

We are attacking the RV problem as well. New Beginnings Counseling Center provides the only safe parking program in California, and it has been recognized by national media including ABC, CBS, CNN and People Magazine.

People do live in RVs and we are working to get them out of them. About 75 of the estimated 350 people living in vehicles find safe places to park each night. Within the last year, 42 people have been placed in housing and moved out of their vehicles. The city of Santa Barbara outlawed RV parking along the coastal zone and near schools, day-care centers and parks. Santa Barbara is no mecca for RV or homeless individuals.

Roger Heroux, executive director
Santa Barbara Countywide 10 Year Plan To End Chronic Homelessness

Gary Linker, executive director
New Beginnings Counseling Center

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