The term homelessness is defined as the condition of individuals who don’t have a permanent residence, such as a house or apartment. Usually, people who are homeless have a hard time acquiring and maintaining a safe, secure and adequate residence, for this, anyone who lives in a homeless shelter, a warming center, nighttime residence, a domestic violence shelter, a vehicle, a tent, a place made of cardboard or building materials, and even a motel room for a long time, are considered homeless.
In the United States, homelessness represents an important area of concern, due to the fact that there are more than 1.6 million people living without the proper housing conditions according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Most of these homeless individuals are currently living at used transitional housing or emergency shelters.
In Santa Barbara specifically, this is a pressing issue since the County is the one with the highest homelessness rate in California with more than 132 homeless families and 1.455 homeless individuals counted in 2015, with more people falling into homelessness every year. Kenny Slaught knows that some key factors that may increase this issue are the high cost of housing and low vacancy rates in the County.
Homelessness Statistics in Santa Barbara
Statistics in the Santa Barbara County show that at least 54 percent of homeless people said they had lived in Santa Barbara County prior experiencing homelessness, with another 23 percent coming from another part of the state, meaning that there are many individuals who choose to move to Santa Barbara from other states to live on the streets.
Also, the average age for homeless people in Santa Barbara is 43 years old, however, there are also elders and young children living under these precarious circumstances, including war veterans, who are among others, the ones with the highest rate when it comes to the time they spend being homeless.
Other significant statistics show that 16 percent of homeless individuals had been previously involved in the foster care system, 33 percent had been victims of domestic violence, 57 percent had experienced different types of violence or trauma while living on the streets, 25 percent had dealt with traumatic brain injuries and 66 percent had been diagnosed with some type of mental condition.
Thanks to the support and awareness of community member and local businesses, a few non-profit organization and social movements have been founded in the Santa Barbara County in order to take action on the issue of homelessness. Their main goal often is to lead individuals to a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Some of these groups in Santa Barbara are:
Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness
The Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness (C3H) organization is an agency operating in the Santa Barbara County, dedicated to reducing the number of people living in homelessness conditions and minimize the impacts of homelessness in the County. C3H works hand in hand with a wide group of service providers and stakeholders, including government agencies, non-profit groups like the organic soup kitchen, business and community leaders, foundations, faith communities, and volunteers.
The agency has a yearly operating budget of approximately $400,000 funded by partners in the Santa Barbara County such the Cottage Hospital Foundation, Dignity Health, the Cities of Santa Maria, Goleta, and Buellton; the Housing Authorities of Santa Barbara; and some private donors.
C3H structure is based on democratically elected leaders who represent the County of Santa Barbara and the cities of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Goleta, Carpinteria, Buellton, and Lompoc in meetings every other month dedicated to address the most significant issues related to homelessness, setting policies and allocating public resources to solve homelessness in Santa Barbara one step at the time.
Common Ground Santa Barbara County
Common Ground Santa Barbara County is a non-profit organization composed of volunteers and community members of the Santa Barbara County striving to end homelessness.
The organization is a “Good Samaritan” which beliefs in helping friends without homes allowing them to move into supportive housing. By assisting every person on the street with needed resources, Common Ground intends to empower homeless individuals to find the lives they want and deserve.
Common Ground’s main mission is to work hand in hand with the new Santa Barbara County AmeriCorops to reduce homelessness and minimize its impacts through professional and volunteer outreach.
The organization’s staff members and volunteers try to connect with people living under homeless conditions, supporting them emotionally and helping them find a house. Common Ground is well-known for providing outstanding volunteer training that includes information on how to assist homeless individuals and where the can go in order to obtain a decent meal or temporary shelter while their situation is being solved. Volunteers are also trained to work on teams to house the most vulnerable people and families in Santa Barbara County.