A recent grant from the federal government worth nearly $80,000 will enable Santa Barbara County to continue providing affordable housing, hospice care and help to local residents living with AIDS and HIV.
The $76,271 allocation was approved by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors at an Oct. 18 board meeting and will be used to fund the Sarah House, which provides long-term housing and onsite medical care for low-income Santa Barbara residents with AIDS and HIV. Thanks to the grant funds, some money previously allocated to Sarah House will now go to Scattered-Site Housing, a program offering financial assistance and advice for people with AIDS trying to lease homes in Santa Barbara, said Randy Sunday, executive director of the nonprofit group AIDS Housing Santa Barbara.
The federal Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program, which funds housing services for low-income citizens suffering from AIDS, donated the grant at the request of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept., department spokesperson Michele Mickiewicz said. She said the grant is essential for the survival of Sarah House.
“All of the $76,271 approved by the council is going directly to the Sarah House,” Mickiewicz said. “$52,900 is going to support ongoing operations in the Sarah House, which came from HOPWA. The rest of the $76,271 is going into required maintenance for the building itself.”
The Sarah House — located at 2612 Modoc Rd. in Santa Barbara — is the only state-licensed AIDS care facility between Los Angeles and Sacramento, Sunday said. He said the eight-bedroom house, which opened in 1989, has housed more than 230 people in the last 16 years. Sometimes, Sunday said, Sarah House provides shelter for homeless people who do not have AIDS or HIV.
“The Sarah House is a social model hospice, which is long-term housing for people living with AIDS, as well as a place for homeless members of the community to live out their last days,” Sunday said. “This is unique because we can utilize otherwise empty beds to provide services for not only AIDS patients, but homeless members of the community as well.”
Before the board of supervisors accepted the grant for Sarah House, the house and Scattered-Site Housing had a combined annual operating budget of $31,000, Sunday said. He said 30 percent of the previous operating budget came from state and federal programs, and another 45 percent came from private and local donations.
Thanks to the HOPWA grant, the $31,000 will now be allocated solely to the Scattered-Site Housing program and Sarah House will receive all of the grant money, Mickiewicz said. He said Sarah House provides services to people who have an annual income of $36,000 or less.
“The Public Health Dept. reallocated $31,000 dollars from original AIDS housing funds to Scattered-Site Housing, which assists with one-time resident utilities, down payments, short term rental assistance and security deposits,” Mickiewicz said.
Sarah House will hold its annual Light Up The Night fundraiser and Christmas tree sale at the Santa Barbara Women’s Country Club on Dec. 9.