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Goleta City Council Considers Funding Emergency Housing Beds for Homeless

No emergency housing is set aside for homeless clients in the Goleta area; Council also considers ordinance limiting rabbit sales in pet shops

Goleta City Council members are considering reserving one or more beds with a local provider for homeless individuals in Goleta.

The possibility of reserving one bed and contracting with Salvation Army Hospitality House is less than $13,000 annually, which breaks down to $35 a night.

This cost includes meals, case management, counseling, life skills coaching, vocational training, financial mentoring, therapy and health services as well as Veteran’s assistance, according to a staff report.

Six homeless individuals might be candidates for the program if finances were made available.

“We haven’t been able to move anyone because of the lack of funding,” City Manager Michelle Greene said. “There is no emergency housing set aside for homeless clients in the Goleta area.”

At Monday’s meeting, council members agreed to move forward with the idea and gather more information about the contract. 

The Community Development Block Grant under the public services category is a potential revenue source, according to Claudia Dato, a senior project manager.

Greene said the facility is devoted towards individuals, not families.

Previous staff counts put the number of homeless people in Goleta at about 50 and that number will be updated next year after the Point-in-Time Count survey is conducted in January.

For the past nine months, the Goleta Coordinated Outreach Team has worked on plans to connect with stakeholders and professional service providers to help homeless individuals find permanent housing. 

“These people would be referred to the shelter after the team has identified them,” Greene said. “How long the person stays depends on the dynamics and needs of the individual.”

Mark Gisler, executive director of the Salvation Army Hospitality House, said six months is the average time a person stays in the program.

“Our goal is to transition people out as soon as possible,” Gisler said. “Sometimes we are the safe haven until they can get into a program. One benefit is building relationships, and there would be a collaboration together to ensure the needs of the individual.”

Councilmember Paula Perotte has been working with the outreach team and said the group is connecting with individuals that seek to transition out of homelessness.

“We are working and have identified with those that want help,” Perotte said. “Many people are fine with living on the street and don’t want to change.”

Beyond providing shelter, the individuals need assistance with getting identification cards, accessing a post office box and social security information, she said.

“We are helping find out what they need,” Perotte said. “I’m hoping we can figure this out together.”

Perotte also brought up the topic of issuing citations to homeless people.

“The frustrating part is that we can’t ticket and arrest our way out of this,” she said. “We are just moving them around. Then, we have to find them. There’s a need to have a place for them to go.”

Luke Barrett, a regional coordinator with the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, organized a tour of the Salvation Army’s Hospitality House in Santa Barbara and PATH Santa Barbara in August.

Both organizations offered some form of case management, counseling, life skills, vocational training and assistance in finding permanent housing, according to a staff report.

The outreach team decided to move forward with the Salvation Army's service.

The city of Santa Barbara has beds reserved through its restorative policing program; Santa Barbara County through probation and behavioral wellness services; and the County Veterans Services Program also funds eight reserved beds. 

Ordinance regulating rabbit sales at pet stores

Council members are also considering an ordinance that would regulate the sale and ownership of rabbits in Goleta. 

The proposed ban would prohibit the sale of unspayed and un-neutered rabbits in pet stores.

The council unanimously voted Monday to have the Ordinance Review Standing Committee bring back a proposal for consideration. 

Goleta contracts with the County of Santa Barbara through its Animal Services Department to provide animal control. 

Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter spays and neuters rabbits when they are abandoned or surrendered to the animal shelter.

A BUNS representative said the nonprofit received 194 rabbits in 2013-14 from the South Coast, which she said included the areas of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta and Montecito.

“The organization gets rescues from throughout the county, and this issue is significant,” Councilman Roger Aceves said. “Nothing is prohibiting the Goleta pet shops from selling bunnies, which is why this ordinance is important. I want to move forward as quickly as possible.”

Aceves said Goleta has three pet shops — PetSmart, Pet House as well as Lemos Feed and Pet Supplies.

All three stores sell pet supplies and two shops sell animals, said Jaime Valdez, the city’s economic development coordinator.

Pet House is the only shop that sells rabbits and that store reports they sell one or two rabbits per month, which they get from a regional breeder. 

“When we spoke to them, they didn’t have any rabbits at that time and said they probably wouldn’t have any for the next month,” Valdez said. “But, we don’t have any control if animals come in from other zip codes.”

Aceves said a single breeding pair of rabbits could produce about 200 bunnies per year and the cost of spraying the animal cost $250.

Intakes at the animal shelter for abandoned rabbits have been trending downward, according to Animal Services. 

Six rabbits were reported either surrendered by their owner or a stray for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Numbers in Goleta peaked in the 2013-14 year with 28 rabbits reported. 

“The numbers look like they are declining,” Councilman Tony Vallejo said. “It seems to be not a huge problem in Goleta. The numbers are not overwhelming, but it can be good if we think it can address a future solution.”​

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.




 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.




 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.




 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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