Homeless shelter crisis declaration first step for local communities to receive state funds

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 20:36:10-04

Santa Barbara County and five incorporated cities declared a homeless shelter crisis this week, allowing them to get a share of state funds to help the homeless. 
Now, even more cities on the Central Coast are looking to join in. San Luis Obispo County is also considering declaring a shelter crisis.

Declaring a crisis will allow SLO County and its cities to get about $4.8 million from California’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program. The state-funded grant is focused on sheltering homeless with a required attention to homeless youth.

SLO County’s Homeless Services Council is digging into the crisis declaration requirements.
"The state is asking us to look at the number of homeless people who we counted in the last point-in-time count and compare that to the number of beds we have available and talk about the number of unsheltered persons who still need assistance," explained Laurel Weir, Homeless Services Coordinator for San Luis Obispo County.

In 2017, the Homeless Services Council found 69 percent of the homeless population was unsheltered.

Even though that number decreased from previous years, the council hopes to make more progress with state funds.
"We can use it for a variety of purposes," Weir added. "Everything from emergency services to creating some housing to reduce the impact on our emergency shelters."

They are also looking to use the money for more warming and cooling shelters which house homeless people during periods of hot and cold weather.

They hope to make the declaration sometime in November. 

The state is asking county and city leaders to work together.

One county supervisor thinks the whole county will benefit from the grant. 
"I’m pretty confident because we’ve been very unified in wanting to do what we cannot just in terms of the homeless folks that are immediate but throughout the county," said Adam Hill, San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor. "There’s just not enough resources to go around."

Hill predicted finding available space for additional housing will be the council’s biggest challenge.
Santa Barbara County already declared a homeless shelter crisis.

The Homeless Assistant Program Manager told KSBY they are now working to outline projects the money will be put toward.
The program hopes funds will be ready to use in Jan. 2019.
Arroyo Grande City Council will be discussing a homeless shelter crisis declaration at their next meeting.

State counties and cities have until Dec. 31 of this year to declare a crisis.