During Santa Maria’s recent budget process, leaders were concerned the city wasn't getting what it paid for from specific investments in the fight against homelessness.
During the budget building process, Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness (C3H) asked the city to increase its annual financial contribution to its efforts.
The City Council voted to double its investment to $24,000 annually during the 2016-18 fiscal period when it approved the budget in June -- but there was a catch.
C3H officials had to work with city administrators to develop performance metrics that will be reported to the council on a regular basis.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, leaders were presented and approved a reporting process of measurable outcomes of C3H’s activity moving forward.
C3H is a countywide agency that works in partnership with a broad group of service providers and stakeholders, including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, business leaders, foundations, faith communities and volunteers to gather and direct all available resources to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness, as well as minimize the impacts of homelessness in Santa Barbara County, according to Chuck Flacks, C3H executive director.
“C3H is not a direct service organization," Flacks said during Tuesday night’s council meeting. "It was never intended that we would be providing homeless services to a broad population.”
The performance metrics set specific goals for C3H.
For example, the group’s goal for 2017 is to show that they have leveraged resources enough to get at least five people into permanent housing for a year or more; have organized 500 hours of volunteer outreach time; connected 20 people with local services; and coordinated outreach efforts with at least 10 agencies and organizations, among others.
City leaders also are requiring that C3H identify the number of affordable housing units, count the homeless population and define the median rental rate, among other things, in the city of Santa Maria.
“About 70 percent of the homeless population that is counted in Santa Maria are families and they are served very well by Good Samaritan,” Flacks said, referencing numbers from the last homelessness count.
The Good Samaritan Shelter provides the community with programs addressing homelessness as well as alcohol and substance abuse.
“What we found is that there is another 30 percent of the homeless population, that unfortunately happens to be growing, struggling with a lack of services,” Flacks said. “The idea is, we can leverage the services that do exist between Good Samaritan, between Marian, between Public Health, between social services and the city itself to help the people that are being served or unsheltered.
Flacks told the council that he plans to make monthly reports to the board on his group’s efforts to combat homelessness in the city and the county.
“The idea behind C3H is to be effective as possible. We have brought staff to Santa Maria, North County and Lompoc,” Flacks said.
The city’s vote accepting the C3H deliverable metrics also approves the city’s increased contribution.
Also on Tuesday night, the Santa Maria City Council decided not to make any changes to the stipends it pays members of the Planning Commission and the Recreation and Parks Commission.
Currently, the five-member Planning Commission gets paid $75 per meeting not to exceed six meetings a month. Recreation and Parks commissioners receive $75 per month.
At its July meeting, the council instructed city administrators to research what other municipalities pay their commission members.
According to a report submitted by Santa Maria City Manager Rick Haydon, all commissioners in Lompoc are volunteers. Santa Barbara Planning Commission members make $50 a meeting, but its Recreation and Parks Commission is a volunteer board.
The Santa Maria City Council chose not to take any action and just to file the report.
The council also voted to increase the city’s Downtown Revitalization Committee from three members to four.
The new group, which hasn’t met yet, was created to enact the city’s Downtown Specific Plan. The committee now will be made up of one Planning Commission member, one Recreation and Parks commissioner and two City Council members.
Council members Jack Boysen and Etta Waterfield will represent the board on the downtown committee.