In response to temperatures in Isla Vista dropping to the lowest in 10 years, a campus group has launched a program to help keep the area’s homeless population warm and clean.
Last week, UCSB’s Community Affairs Board introduced a new free laundry service program for I.V. transients in order to clean and dry wet clothes and blankets. According to CAB vice chair Ellie Stone, the organization decided to launch the program in response to a recent surge in the number of patrons to CAB’s weekly free breakfast service, available to local homeless population throughout the year.
Stone, who has been participating in the food program for the past three years, said she thought the increased demand for the meal service – known as the Breakfast Club – was indicative of an increased need for aid for the community’s homeless.
“Out of the three years I have participated in this program, this is the year I have witnessed the most attendance,” Stone said. “Now that we have drawn attention to our cause, and identified that this is a clear need, we are looking to expand our services out for these people in multiple directions.”
In addition, the notably cold weather of the past weeks – during which temperatures in the Santa Barbara area fell to the lowest on record since 1987 – inspired CAB members to create the laundry program, which will be available for free to a limited number of area transients, Stone said.
Stone said the laundry program gives a limited number of local homeless people enough detergent, dryer sheets and quarters to ensure participants have clean and warm clothing for the season’s cold nights. CAB members accompany the individuals to Isla Vista Fluff N Fold on Embarcadero del Norte while they do laundry.
Raymond “Pirate” Lucettle, a longtime homeless resident of Isla Vista, said the recent drop in temperatures has been particularly difficult for him and girlfriend Darlene Thompson without access to permanent shelter and other cold weather necessities.
“We have been freezing our butts off, sleeping in the park or in laundry rooms; anywhere we can find cover,” Lucettle said. “All we have is this one little sleeping bag, but we got through it; we kept each other warm.”
Lucettle said the laundry service would be helpful during the harsh weather conditions.
“I would like to wash my pants and have clean clothes,” Lucettle said. “Especially when it’s raining and freezing out.”
In addition to the laundry service, CAB member Kristianne Meisels recently organized an online blanket drive using Facebook.com to collect bedding for the local transients.
The group, called Homeless Holiday Blanket Drive, is seeking donations to help fund the purchase of blankets for local transients. According to Meisels, $68 has been raised for the blanket drive so far, and seven blankets have been donated to area transients.
Meisels also said she is encouraging members of the I.V. community to get involved in the laundry program because of the positive impact it has made so far on the area’s homeless population.
“I think it’s an awesome program and I am trying to get my friends to come out and help because I see that these little things CAB does really do brighten up their days,” she said.