New program setting up to help the homeless
The city of Santa Barbara is contributing $100,000 to help two nonprofit agencies with a project to address homelessness.
The City Council set the money aside in a unanimous Sept. 17 vote, and nonprofit Santa Barbara Foundation — a leader of this project as it launches — may match that amount dollar for dollar.
Santa Barbara Foundation began working with Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation — an organization whose mission is to eliminate homelessness — six months ago, said Barbara Andersen, chief strategy officer for the foundation.
The project is a joint effort by the two organizations, and its objectives include building the Santa Barbara City Homelessness Collaborative for homelessness prevention.
The project is in its infancy, but Ms. Andersen told the News-Press that key partners will be recruited within the next six months.
According to the proposal to the City Council, these key partners may include Home For Good, PATH SB, Housing Authority of the City of SB, SB Rescue Mission, and others.
Although organizations that aim to assist the transient community may not be “robust enough to address the issue countywide,” bringing the organizations into one collaborative may prove effective in addressing homelessness systematically, said Ms. Andersen.
“You need agencies to work together, sharing information, being accountable to outcomes that they have created, not those that have been forced on them,” Ms. Andersen said.
By October 2020, the project aims to house 20 homeless individuals or families, and decrease the number of homeless in the county by 10 percent. SB Foundation will contribute $50,000 at the beginning of the project.
If by March 2020 the project is on track to meet the outcomes, SB Foundation will contribute an additional $50,000.
“We are committed to match the city’s financial commitment,” Ms. Andersen said.
The collaborative nature of the initiative, according to Ms. Andersen, addresses homelessness in a more holistic sense through “behavioral health, health care, homelessness and food.”
Another dimension that Ms. Andersen stressed was prevention.
“There isn’t a lot of dollars going into prevention,” said Ms. Andersen, who remains hopeful about the role that SB Foundation could play to narrow that gap.
“The best thing about philanthropy is that we can be more flexible and creative with our dollars (which are) desperately needed in an issue that has been saturated with federal and state dollars that are restrictive,” said Ms. Andersen.
But even a philanthropic entity has its own restrictions. The $474 million that the nonprofit has in assets also face certain conditions.
“It’s important to know that most of those dollars are restrictive. We don’t have a choice where those dollars are distributed,” said Ms. Andersen.
The City Council also unanimously authorized $50,000 for the Northern Santa Barbara County United Way/Home for Good SBC (United Way) to “address homelessness and to provide supervision for the AmeriCorps volunteers in the city,” according to the council agenda report.