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With Cold Front and Rain in Sunday Forecast, Casa Esperanza to Double Number of Shelter Beds

Santa Barbara homeless shelter gets city’s emergency authorization for 200 beds before regular Dec. 1 expansion

Casa Esperanza, the People Assisting the Homeless shelter at 816 Cacique St. in Santa Barbara, is allowed to double its bed capacity to 200 between Dec. 1 and March 31. Because of inclement weather in Sunday’s forecast, the shelter has been cleared to expand now. Click to view larger
Casa Esperanza, the People Assisting the Homeless shelter at 816 Cacique St. in Santa Barbara, is allowed to double its bed capacity to 200 between Dec. 1 and March 31. Because of inclement weather in Sunday’s forecast, the shelter has been cleared to expand now. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Cold temperatures and the threat of weekend rain have prompted one Santa Barbara homeless shelter to activate emergency beds this weekend.

Jessica Wishan, managing director of Casa Esperanza said the shelter at 816 Cacique St. on the Lower Eastside has been at 100 percent capacity for the past several weeks.

On Friday, she submitted a request to the City of Santa Barbara to allow for emergency beds to be activated after taking a look at this weekend’s forecast. The city granted the request later that day.

The shelter’s agreement with the city allows for 100 extra shelter beds to be activated from Dec. 1 to March 31. That would bring the shelter’s total capacity to 200 beds.

However, if the temperature is expected to drop below 40 degrees or there’s more than a 50 percent chance of rain, the shelter can activate those emergency beds, even outside of the winter timeframe.

The National Weather Service says a cold front will be moving through the region Sunday, bringing with it rain in the morning followed by showers in the afternoon. Daytime high temperatures are expected in the upper 50s and low 60s, with overnight lows in the upper 30s to mid-40s.

Strong and potentially damaging winds also are in the forecast. Afternoon winds of 15 to 25 mph are expected Sunday, with gusts to 35 mph.

Sunday night, however, the weather service said winds are likely to increase to 25 to 35 mph, with gusts to 50 mph. Isolated gusts as high as 60 mph are possible in the foothills. 

Wishan said the Casa Esperanza shelter, which is run by People Assisting the Homeless, or PATH, is also collecting clean, gently used blankets and towels as well as new hygiene and toiletry items in advance of the winter shelter beds opening Dec. 1.

She said those wanting to donate can bring the items to the shelter from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

When the shelter is expanded, beneficiaries will receive three meals a day, as well as benefit from programming the shelter offers, including two new employment programs, Wishan said.

“We are always at maximum capacity but in particular with the weather, people are appreciating the shelter opportunity,” she said.

Warming centers have been activated during inclement weather in the past, including at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara on the Upper Eastside.

But Unitarian Society administration director Erin Wilson told Noozhawk it didn’t look as if the organization would open the warming shelters this weekend.

“Our season begins Nov. 15 and activation is triggered if there are two nights in a row of 50 percent or more chance of rain and/or if the temperature is forecasted to drop below 38 degrees,” she said.

“We are predicting much higher numbers of clients than normal this season as we head into what could potentially be a very wet and cold winter.”

Sylvia Bernard, director of Good Samaritan, which has shelters in Lompoc and Santa Maria, said the shelter has been at overflow capacity for the last five years.

“We’re full every night,” she said.

Good Samaritan also operates North County warming shelters, which usually are activated after Dec. 1, she said.

Because of a shortage of funding, the shelters aren’t able to accommodate more people outside that timeframe, she said.

“In Lompoc, we have 56 beds of shelter but are serving 90 people,” she explained. “In Santa Maria, there are 90 beds but we’re serving 130 people.

“You can imagine how impacted we are.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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