The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday endorsing the consolidation of regional homeless advisory committees with several nonprofit organizations in an effort to minimize homelessness in the area.
The motion combines local nonprofits Bringing our Community Home and Common Ground Santa Barbara with several homeless advisory committees from around the county to address homelessness more effectively by pooling resources to handle the county’s widespread transiency. A Leadership Council consisting of elected city officials would govern the new entity and a lesser Coordination Committee comprised of department leaders would manage the executive groundwork.
According to Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, the decision allows the council to seek additional input on the proposal before finalizing the concept.
“We are one of many partners in this effort, and it hasn’t been fully formed because that is the point,” Schneider said. “The point of today’s meeting is to get a report from the subcommittee so the merger can be fully formed with input from a variety of people. What we are being asked to do today is not to put anything in stone, but to keep the conversation moving and say ‘Yes, let’s move forward.’”
The council will hold several public meetings in the next few months to discuss the plan’s development and hear the constituents’ feedback.
According to Milpas Community Association member Alan Clever, the measure fails to address the strain the homeless population has on Santa Barbara’s lower east-side area,
“[The measure] is weak overall,” Clever said. “It’s nice that you are optimistic, but we are still left with the problem. This plan sounds like managing the problem, not solving it. In short, you fell short and the neighborhood’s concerns remain unmitigated.”
Despite doubts about the reorganization’s impact, Santa Barbara Councilmember Randy Rowse said the new proposal will benefit from the experiences of past city policies.
“What we have been doing is not working so we have to take a different approach,” Rowse said. “I do not think we can have just a revolving door policy when it comes to services, which enable and grow the problem. As we move forward with this program I hope we don’t follow old models, but that we create new models that have teeth.”