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2023 Point in Time Homelessness Count preliminary results released

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Posted at 3:44 PM, Mar 16, 2023

Early results of the 2023 Point in Time Count of persons experiencing homelessness have been released by the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care.

Over 400 volunteers were recruited by the Continuum of Care and the County of Santa Barbara to help gather the census on January 25th of this year.

According to the count, 1,887 people have been identified as homeless with just 36 percent (685 people) reporting to have shelter and the remaining 63 percent (1,202 people) being unsheltered.

Fifty-nine percent of those experiencing homelessness in Santa Barbara County are in the south county and 41 percent in the mid and north counties.

The volunteers who helped conduct the census reported that more than 77 percent of those surveyed had lost their homes while living in Santa Barbara County.

While homelessness has seen a slight decline since 2020, Carpinteria, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez Valley, and Guadalupe have seen a rise in the homeless population.

The majority of those experiencing homelessness in Santa Barbara County are reported to be located in the cities of Santa Barbara and Santa Maria from the 2023, 2022, and 2020 counts.

In 2021, the County Board of Supervisors, Continuum of Care and cities adopted a “Community Action Plan to Address Homelessness” that included adding 140 beds to shelters, 800 permanent housing opportunities, as well as helping resolve 154 encampments.

Permanent housing resources, including a total of 272 long-term rental subsidy vouchers, provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), were sent to both the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Emergency Housing Voucher program, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act, has served 51,434 households throughout the U.S., including 11,681 in California.

“This program has been instrumental in the County of Santa Barbara's efforts to house vulnerable and chronically homeless residents across our communities,” Continuum of Care Chairperson Sylvia Barnard said.

The County of Santa Barbara cited the transition of 1,050 homeless persons in 2022 into permanent housing despite the county seeing a nine percent increase in rent cost and a 1.7 percent apartment vacancy rate, according to Hayes Commercial Group’s 2022 annual report.

Later this year, a public-private collaboration between Good Samaritan Shelters, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center, DignityMoves, and the County of Santa Barbara will help construct and open Hope Village.

“Hope Village is a necessary and temporary first step in addressing the homeless problem in the Santa Maria Valley. The services, sanctuaries, and security needed for the unhoused will be present each day to ensure they can overcome their individual issues and move forward as a member of our community,” said Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson.