Dec 26, 2013 7:45 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Reaching out to the homeless in Santa Barbara County

A Santa Barbara County nurse has spent nearly a decade getting to know the people who live on the streets of the largest city on the Central Coast. It's part of the county's Health Care for the Homeless program.

For more than eight years, Iva Larpin has been driving the streets of Santa Maria to help those who need it the most.

"Generally the ones out here we know and they look for us and wait for us," said Larpin.

Part of her job is street outreach.

"I love to try and help people and a lot of these people need someone to care about them and maybe just assist them with little things to get them over this little speed bump in their life," said Larpin.

She says snacks, hygiene kits and even medical services are simple things that can help get someone back on their feet.

Someone like Valerie, who lost her job last year. She now lives in her car.

"She's found herself out on the streets and just trying to survive," said Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter Director Kirsten Cahoon.

Cahoon says homelessness can happen to anyone.

"They know we are on their side. We aren't here to judge them," said Cahoon.

She says it only takes a simple visit to let the homeless know they have options.

"Our goal is to get them off the streets and get them back on their feet," said Cahoon.

Larpin says she enjoys her weekly visits but is happier when the homeless find life off the streets.

"I love seeing the outcome of when they get housed or when they finally get access to medical care and their health starts changing. That is such a rewarding feeling that you've helped somebody in need," said Larpin.

Click here for more on Santa Barbara County's Health Care for the Homeless program.



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