Construction is now underway on Hope Village, a temporary housing project off Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria.
Of the 94 units to be built at the site, 10 will be dedicated for young adults aging out of the foster care system, another 10 for homeless veterans, 30 more for unsheltered people undergoing recuperative care, and the remaining 44 for other couples and individuals experiencing homelessness.
"It is a priority for us because those are the folks that can quite often be the greatest public health and safety issue," said Jack Lorenz of DignityMoves, the primary organization behind the development.
The new temporary housing site also neighbors the offices of two Santa Barbara County supervisors.
"Most people don’t want this in their backyard," said Santa Barbara County District 4 Supervisor Bob Nelson. "Supervisor Lavagnino and I wanted this literally in our front yard right across the street from our offices so we can have eyes on it to make sure the project is successful."
He says county staff from the nearby Santa Barbara County department buildings will also be present at Hope Village to provide resources like medical care and mental health treatment.
Lorenz says that right now, other local organizations like Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley and the Good Samaritan Shelter are coordinating outreach efforts in the community in search of future tenants.
"There is no weapons, no drug use, no alcohol use on site. There is a curfew, you can have no visitors, and the second and most important part is that you have to agree to work with an intensive case manager to come up with an exit plan," Lorenz explained.
He says the site will include amenities like a computer lab, a dog run, and laundry and shower access.
Lorenz adds that a typical tenant's stay at Hope Village is not expected to exceed more than 12 months, and as for the entire temporary housing community itself, Supervisor Nelson says that has a time stamp, too.
"If we are really going to get our arms around this issue, we have to have the vision that this will not be here forever. But also, it is about the businesses and the neighborhood here. They may not want to have that impact indefinitely. I think everybody is willing to share that load temporarily but that they want to see it spread around into other communities," Nelson told KSBY.
He says Hope Village will remain on Lakeside Parkway for five years, It will then be relocated to serve the unsheltered population in another area.
The site is expected to open later this fall, and Lorenz says he expects all 94 units will be filled by Christmas.