For the first time, the city of Santa Barbara will have a homeless outreach team during evening and weekend hours in the Downtown Corridor and along the waterfront.

Santa Barbara also will continue to provide homeless outreach, case management, and housing navigation services throughout the city during weekday hours.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a new one-year $450,000 contract with City Net to provide the expanded services, given City Net’s track record and responsiveness to the needs of the local unsheltered population, as well as the concerns of residents, business owners and visitors, the city said.

City Councilman Mike Jordan said he was pleased to see the expanded hours because it will fill a gap in service after hours. “I’m glad we are going where we are going today because the impacts don’t follow a normal workday, so I’m appreciative,” he said.

Jordan also suggested city staff review the program’s achievements at the six-month mark to decide whether to expand the night and weekend hours to other areas of the city.  

Councilman Eric Friedman also supported an early review of the program prior to expanding outreach locations.

“There are challenges throughout the city, and this action today is by no means minimizing those, it’s actually expanding a program to see how it works, and then if we need to, we can evaluate on expanding it to other parts of town,” Friedman said.

“This is an absolute critical service to enhance, not only services for individuals experiencing homelessness to get through the systems but to enhance the economic vitality of our beloved downtown district,” said Robin Elander, executive director of Downtown Organization.

City Net has established relationships with local government agencies and nonprofit service providers supporting a collaborative approach that has yielded positive, measurable outcomes both throughout the county and with its efforts in Santa Barbara, the city reported.

In Santa Barbara over the last year, City Net has assisted in permanently housing 22 individuals, enrolled 100 clients in case management, achieved 57 street exits, and made unduplicated outreach to 712 individuals.  

The scope of services of the contract approved last week by the City Council includes locating, identifying, and building relationships with unsheltered people to provide immediate support, intervention, de-escalation, and connections with homeless assistance programs, mainstream medical and mental/behavioral health and social services, and housing programs.

The new contract includes evening and weekend street outreach, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. along the downtown and waterfront areas, Thursday to Sunday. 

The city has contracted with City Net since 2019 and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late 2022 when that agreement was set to expire. Evenings and weekend hours were identified as an area of need and included in the RFP.

City Net submitted a proposal meeting all criteria. The $450,000 agreement is for one year with an option to renew for a second year, using Permanent Local Housing Allocation funds.