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Advice

Schneider Says New Congressional Leadership Needed to Curb Increases in Homelessness, Poverty

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, of which Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider serves as a co-chair, released its 2015 annual survey report, available here.

Following the official release of the survey, the task force, including Mayor Schneider, held a nation-wide briefing for reporters across the United States to present an overview of the results. After the conference call, Mayor Schneider released the following statement:

“Taking care of our most vulnerable citizens — like homeless children, women, veterans and the mentally ill — should not be a partisan political issue. Fundamentally, these are human rights issues and should be treated as such,” she said.

Mayor Schneider pointed to the importance of making vulnerable populations a priority both at the congressional and local levels.

“It's vital that we have champions in Congress, willing to fight for the funding needed to keep us from losing ground. With the continued gridlock and endless rounds of budget fights, every year vital funding like that of HOME is at dire risk," Mayor Schneider said. "Even still, while local mayors across America have stepped up to the plate to address our nation-wide homelessness crisis, there is only so much that local governments can accomplish on their own.

The candidate for Congress continued, emphasizing that governmental standstills prevent life-changing legislation from helping homeless persons. 

"Having worked on this issue on a local level as a Housing Authority Commissioner, a City Council member, as Santa Barbara Mayor and on a national level as co-chair of the Hunger and Homelessness Task Force, I have a deep understanding of the complexities of these issues, and I know what works and what doesn't," Schneider said. "This is one of the key reasons why we need a major overhaul in Congress, more of a local government perspective, and new leadership in Washington, so that we can finally get things done. I believe my pragmatic approach to governing and problem-solving best equips me to cut through Washington's gridlock by building coalitions, so that we can move forward a positive agenda that addresses pivotal issues like America’s growing homelessness, hunger and poverty once and for all.”
 
The survey included results from 22 of America’s major cities, including the City of Santa Barbara, that emphasize the impact of hunger and homelessness in metropolitan centers in the United States. 
 
For more than a quarter century, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has reported on the shortage of emergency services — food, shelter, medical care, income and energy assistance — as well as the programs offered by many cities to help people in need, with the goal of bringing national attention to the causes of hunger and homelessness in cities across the country.

Working with regional partners on reducing homelessness throughout Santa Barbara County and its impacts on the community has been a top priority for Mayor Schneider throughout her tenure at City Hall.

She is currently policy council chair of C3H (Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness) and was a commissioner to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara prior to serving in elected office. 

Earlier this year, C3H was a key partner in completing the federally mandated Point-in-Time count, and included a survey tool to assist providers in quickly assessing the health and social needs of homeless persons.

The 2015 Point-In-Time count showed a 14 percent decrease from the 2013 Point-In-Time count of the number of homeless individuals within the City of Santa Barbara.

C3H has also tracked housing placements countywide since May 2013. From July 2014 throuch June 2015, a total of 187 housing placements were made in the City of Santa Barbara, totaling 306 individuals. Of these, 40 were Veterans, and 101 were children, and another 14 individuals were reunified with family and/or employment. 

Also, during the past two years, C3H has been working with local businesses and service providers on a pilot project to house the most vulnerable and/or nuisance-causing individuals on the Milpas Street corridor on Santa Barbara’s Eastside.

Ten individuals, identified by merchants and the Restorative Policing Program, were chosen for the pilot. To date, nine have been successfully housed.

Considerable effort is now focused on ensuring that these people remain housed. There are seven additional individuals that the group is actively working with to obtain housing.

During the past year, this project was expanded to the downtown area of Santa Barbara. Downtown Santa Barbara identified eight individuals, and two have been housed to date. 

The City of Santa Barbara’s Neighborhood Outreach Services department, working with the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the national non-profit No Kid Hungry, also coordinates providing free nutritious meals to kids in need, especially during the summer months when school is not in session and access to the national free lunch program is limited. 

Finally, the City of Santa Barbara has a long-standing tradition of augmenting federal Community Development Block Grants funding (CDBG) with over $700,000 from the City’s General Fund towards grants to numerous nonprofit agencies that focus on providing emergency shelter, housing, food and social services that reduce hunger and homelessness to thousands of city residents.  

For more information about the Take Force’s report, please click here

For more information about Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider’s campaign for Congress, please visit www.HeleneSchneider.org.

Dave Jacobson is a publicist representing Mayor Helene Schneider.

 
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