Fast Track: Santa Barbara County Has Two Years to Spend a $7.9 Million State Grant to ...


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In California's Santa Barbara County, more than 1,000 residents experienced homelessness for the first time in 2024, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Kimberlee Albers, the county's Homeless Assistance Program manager, tells the Santa Barbara Sun that the increase is due in part to the end of pandemic emergency rental assistance, soaring rents, and a lack of affordable housing.

She says many of those experiencing homelessness for the first time are seniors or families with children who have fallen out of housing.

The number of people living in their vehicles also increased 16% from 611 in 2023 to 710 in 2024.

Albers says the county has received an $8 million state grant to help those living in their vehicles get into housing.

The county has identified 21 vehicle encampments, with four in Santa Maria, according to a Board of Supervisors staff report seen by the Sun.

The grant will help hire 24 people to work as housing navigators, service coordinators, and outreach staff; $3 million will go to rental assistance and permanent housing flexible funds; $700,000 will go to interim housing like hotels; and $400,000 will go to administrative costs.

"It's very fast, getting a lot of staff hired and people into housing very quickly, which is exciting but also daunting," Albers says.

The Times reports

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