Some people in Santa Barbara are upset about the many tents that are springing up in their area.
During this pandemic, it has been stipulated by the city that as long as there are not enough shelter beds provided, people are able to provide a shelter of sorts and stay in place until further notice. Because of this, trash is building up around the campsites for a lack of dumpster facilities or trash pick up at these individual camps. Warming fires may get started occasionally and have been known to get out of hand.
Whether caused by arsonists or campers inexperienced in building a safe environment, the fires have required responses from the fire department.
A few of us who are members of the Community for Social Justice and their supporters have decided that Santa Barbara needs to provide a better situation for all.
As it stands right now, we only show how inhumane our representatives can be to some of those who have lost their housing. And, for that matter, the rest of the community who have not fallen yet.
There are many places that could provide a temporary drop-in center and a place to put the people who are without a roof over their heads in individual tents separated in an isolation mode surrounding the drop-in center.
Believe it or not, a tent is an emergency housing situation, and it does not cost an arm and a leg to have tiny houses at $7,000 apiece built with electricity and heat. Trash is picked up, and there’s a place to find warmth and food to start the day.
The people in their own tents, which they would provide for themselves, could volunteer to help around the place such as clean-up, etc.
Portable restrooms and shower facilities such as the Showers of Blessings could come by on a weekly basis. Doctors without Walls could provide the COVID-19 testing needed for the people who volunteer and or reside in their tents this winter. All would be signed up for permanent housing situations.
People would be safe.
At one time, Earl Warren Showgrounds provided a drop-in center for people who needed their services. It worked well until the budget was unable to keep up with the demand. And as we well know, there is such a large demand for services. It has plenty of room for such a community center.
The governor can open the fairgrounds for such an endeavor.
The Sears building could temporarily house this community center. The room is enormous, and since the hospital does not want to purchase the site for extra COVID necessities, it sits empty. It’s empty, just waiting for whatever.
There are other places as well.
The warming centers are not allowed to open unless the temperatures are at or lower than 35 degrees. That is abhorrent. That is inhumane. It is hard to sleep out at night at 40 degrees. Would you like to do it? Any takers?
And even so, the budget is just out of this world to run them. During December so far, the warming center has been opened only once, and that was because of a false weather report. And some of the homeless just are afraid to approach the center because of concern about the spread of COVID-19.
We can make all the excuses in the world why we set the temperature at 35 degrees. While the rest of many cities in the state use 35 degrees as their temperatures, it is still not right.
This year, the warming center is at the Veteran’s Administration Center. And since it is not jumping from church to church, it should be open more often. The county Board of Supervisors should be contacted.
We do not know what the future will be. How many more people are going to lose their housing because of this pandemic? How many more people are going to have to live out of their vehicles and tents? Are we going to be prepared for this?
All this brings food for thought. Who wants to get on board to work on this Community Center? It should be beneficial to us all.
The author lives in Santa Barbara.