After a furious neighborhood uproar and the loss of millions of dollars in funding, the city of Santa Barbara has decided not to build “tiny homes” for the homeless at one of the gateways to the city.
Rob Fredericks, executive director and CEO of the Santa Barbara Housing Authority, told Noozhawk Wednesday night that the funds will be reallocated to restorative policing and outreach services.
“With the reduction in funding from $6.5 million to $2 million, we would not have been able to provide the homes and the services for what is needed at the site in order to do the job right and to benefit the community,” Fredericks said.
The decision was made at a Housing Authority meeting on Wednesday.
The Housing Authority had initially applied for a $6.5 million grant, which included a partnership with Cottage Health and City Net, for a proposal to build 40 tiny homes for the homeless on a commuter parking lot at the corner of Carrillo and Castillo Streets.
The Housing Authority wanted to provide housing for the most vulnerable homeless residents in the community for up to 30 months. The lot is currently used by a variety of downtown employee commuters.
The facilities were envisioned to provide temporary electricity, common shower and sanitary facilities, and meals provided by a nonprofit agency.
The site would have had a resident on-site manager, supportive services, 24-hour security and a Police Department work station.
The grant application, however, was competitive and the city’s request was slashed down to $2 million.
Fredericks said the Housing Authority will now work with the Salvation Army, which received a $2.5 million grant from the state, to add 32 beds at a new, unspecified location that the agency is purchasing.
“The city’s $2 million grant will continue to go to the services that are needed: restorative policing, Cottage, physician assistant/nurse, and street outreach to connect people with services that will get them into either the new Salvation Army beds or other units that we have available through our inventory, or other homes that become available with rental assistance,” Fredericks said.
Earlier this year, California enacted the Homeless Emergency Aid Program, or HEAP, which provides $500 million in block grants to cities and counties to address homelessness.
The proposal to build tiny homes on the parking lot infuriated many Castillo Street residents, who worried that homeless living nearby would threaten their quality of life.
Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon, one of the City Council members who supported the proposal, said: “I am disappointed that no one program received full funding.”