The number of houseless people living in Isla Vista more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, going from 33 people to 69 people, according to the most recent countywide Point in Time Count

Houselessness within Santa Barbara County grew from 1,083 to 1,897 in the past year. Nexus File Photo

The Point in Time (P.I.T.) Count, which “serves as a snapshot of homelessness in the county on a single night,” according to a county press release, was conducted on Jan. 29 this year. Results were released last week.

The number of people experiencing houselessness in I.V. dramatically increased due to larger numbers of people living out of their vehicles, according to Kimberlee Albers, homeless assistance program manager for Santa Barbara County.

“About the same number of people in Isla Vista were counted that were living on the streets, but we had so many more counted that were living in their vehicles,” Albers said.

Houselessness within Santa Barbara County grew from 1,083 to 1,897 in the past year, while the number of individuals living out of their vehicles grew from 479 to 629.

Within south Santa Barbara County — Goleta, Montecito, Carpinteria, Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, Summerland, as well as other unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County — the number of reported houseless individuals increased from 1,074 to 1,292, which the P.I.T. Count also attributed to people living in their vehicles. Of the total number of houseless individuals in the county, 68% are living in the south, an 8% increase from last year.

While south county houselessness increased enough to drive up the total number of houseless individuals living in the county, the number of houseless individuals living in the north and central county decreased, which Albers attributed to additional shelter beds being available, such as the Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Maria.

To alleviate houselessness, Albers stressed the need for additional housing units with wraparound services, such as drug treatment programs and places where residents can receive additional assistance based on their specific needs.

“We are still desperately short on the south coast of permanent supportive housing units … We still need hundreds of units for [the houseless] population,” Albers said. “If we want to see a difference in our street population, we have to have those permanent supportive housing units.”

The county also sheltered four additional houseless people from last year, bringing the total to 674, according to the P.I.T. Count. 

Albers said additional canvassing is necessary to determine whether those surveyed in the P.I.T. Count were students; UC Santa Barbara students experiencing housing insecurity are potentially eligible for assistance from the university.

“Students who are currently without safe and stable housing can be placed in free transition housing for up to 25 days while a case manager from Financial Aid assists the student in finding long-term housing solutions,” Michael Chan, a spokesperson for the UCSB Food Security and Basic Needs Taskforce’s Rapid Rehousing Program, said in an email.

“[UCSB’s Financial Crisis Response Team] also offers housing vouchers for students who are currently in housing and need assistance with a rent payment or who need support for their first rent payment if they need it to transition to stable housing,” he added. 

In order to learn how to address student housing needs, the next UC Undergraduate Experience Survey is expected to include questions about the housing security of students, according to Chan.

“This data should help us to better understand how many students are affected and what forms of housing security students are experiencing,” he said.