Santa Barbara County will apply for approximately $4 million in state funds to provide housing and services to the homeless, including a program that could lead to permanent housing for some.
The Board of Supervisors authorized staff to apply for the money from California Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention program Tuesday as part of the administrative agenda, shortly before hearing a report on 41 homeless county residents who died in 2018.
Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention provides a $650 million block grant to be allocated among 44 continuums of care, 13 large cities and 58 counties.
“HHAP differs from other funding sources in that it requires proven approaches in addressing and preventing homelessness and requires [Continuums of Care] and local jurisdictions to engage in a thoughtful analysis to examine all resources currently deployed toward homelessness and gaps in housing and service delivery,” said George Chapjian, Community Services Department director.
The county will seek a little more than $2.1 million for the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care and more than $1.9 million for the county program.
Together, the two programs are expected to assist 235 homeless households in the county, 130 of which officials believe will obtain permanent housing, according to a Community Services Department report.
If the funding is approved by the state, the Continuum of Care’s $2.12 million would be divided up, with $700,000 dedicated for rental assistance and rapid rehousing, $299,154 used on incentives for landlords to provide housing units dedicated for homeless assistance and $700,000 going to help develop a Crisis Respite Navigation Center in the South County.
The nearly $1.97 million received by the county would be reallocated, with $574,145 dedicated to help vulnerable populations acquire permanent housing and promote supportive housing stability and $1 million directed toward creating the South County Crisis Respite Navigation Center.
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Another $327,330 of combined Continuum of Care and county youth set-aside allocations would be dedicated to helping unaccompanied homeless youths between the ages of 12 and 24.
Those funds would provide $218,220 for rental assistance and rapid rehousing and $109,110 to help vulnerable populations acquire permanent housing and promote supportive housing stability outreach and coordination.
Providing that additional housing could reduce the number of homeless county deaths in the County Homeless Death Review Team report delivered to the board later in the meeting.
Dana Gamble, assistant deputy director of the Public Health Department, noted the average age of the 41 homeless who died in 2018 was 58.
Among those who have housing, the average age of death is 76, he said.
“It is very sobering to hear these numbers, especially the premature age of death,” Kim Albers, the Homeless Assistance Program manager for the county, said following the report.
“There is a critical need for both emergency housing as well as assisted housing,” she said.
First District Supervisor Das Williams said he’s long been concerned about the need for permanent support housing, which he said is a known solution to homeless deaths.
“We’d have fewer of these deaths if [the homeless] had access to more shelter,” Williams said.
Gamble agreed: “I do feel more opportunities to get people off the streets and into a shelter would benefit and reflect on these numbers.”