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‘We want to get results’: SLO County hosting community meeting on supportive housing village for homeless

The meeting discussing the Welcome Home Village takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Government Center Board Chambers in downtown San Luis Obispo.
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Posted at 9:04 PM, Aug 29, 2023

San Luis Obispo County will be holding a community info session Wednesday, August 30 to discuss a key piece of the county’s plan to address homelessness: an 80-unit modular supportive housing village for homeless individuals.

The info session will be held at Katcho Achadjian Government Center, Board Chambers, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Community members are invited to attend.

The County of San Luis Obispo plans to build an 80-unit supportive housing facility — modeled after successful programs in Santa Barbara County — called the Welcome Home Village.

It’s a key piece of the county’s Bob Jones Bike Trail Encampment Resolution Project, which aims, in part, to restore public areas for their intended purpose, all while increasing safety and providing a platform for homeless individuals to potentially get back on their feet through stable housing and access to vital services.

“As we have seen the homeless issue grow, so now have our solutions,” San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg said. “So we’re now finally beginning to get our arms around some of the things that are working in other places,” referring to successful mini-home facilities in Santa Barbara County and Grover Beach.

“And that’s what’s exciting about this,” Ortiz-Legg continued. “We want to get results. We want to be able to have the community have their public spaces back and to reduce the homeless on the street.”

The program is entirely funded by the state. The county received $13.4 million in encampment resolution funds in July — funds designated for breaking up homeless encampments. Funding will last for approximately three years.

Welcome Home Village

The Welcome Home Village’s future location will be near the county’s Department of Social Services off Prado Road near Higuera Street.

It’s the final phase of a three-phase project called the Bob Jones Bike Trail Encampment Resolution, where the county plans on cleaning up San Luis Creek and other open spaces near the Bob Jones Bike Trail.

Each individual registered in the program will have their own cabin, a larger-scale version of the Cabins For Change project in Grover Beach, much like the successful one currently operating in Santa Barbara run by the nonprofit Good Samaritan Shelter. (Good Samaritan Shelter will also be the operator of the Welcome Home Village, Ortiz-Legg said.)

Ortiz-Legg said the environment is structured — residents have to sign in and sign out and are not allowed to roam around.

“This is a well-established, proven method to get results for those that are unhoused,” Ortiz-Legg said. “That’s really exciting.”

The housing village also provides services based on individual needs, whether that be related to mental health, addiction, or even general health care.

“It’s a place for them to heal and to begin to build their life back again,” Ortiz-Legg said.

Ortiz-Legg said the long-term cost of having unhoused people on the streets is actually higher than housing them in programs such as the Welcome Home Village, between the expenditure of law enforcement resources, health care resources and other societal strains.

“We’re actually trying to solve problems here,” she said.