No gold star for Golden State when addressing homelessness
Thursday, April 19, 2018
by Kacey Drescher
The Golden State is not getting a gold star for addressing homelessness after a state auditor’s report was released Thursday.
Almost a quarter of the country’s homeless call the streets of California home and the auditor says California is doing a poor job sheltering those that are down and out.
A 2016 state law created the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council but it has no permanent staff.
The auditor wants the Legislature to allocate fund to the council, so they can create and implement a strategic statewide plan.
So what’s being done in Santa Barbara County and how would this help?
Tyrone Masaw is going to school and trying to start a business.
“It’s hard to try and be from a bad position to like be in a position where I’m able to support myself and do what I gotta do,” said Marsaw.
He’s called the streets of Santa Barbara home for four years.
“Make more resources more available, to like people you know what I’m saying, that are out living on the streets or trying to do something with their lives,” said Marsaw, when asked what he would say to a decision maker on what would help him get out of his situation.
Volunteers with area churches say the resources out there need more visibility.
“It would be great if there was a team of people that came in set up awnings for all of the different organizations that are represented so it looks like an actual event taking place in the city for poor people so they can come to one location and find a meal, find healthcare, find a way to fill out applications for housing,” said Joyce Berg, Volunteer Coordinator with United Church of Christ.
Ken Ralph says it’s a challenge finding the right location for his mobile showers.
“There’s a section of Santa Barbara right now we would love to serve down by Pershing Park,” said Ralph, the General Manger of Showers of Blessing.
Ralph says it’s going to take some creative thinking to make something happen.
“I think the money is there it’s just finding ways to re-direct our thinking to different kinds of solutions,” said Ralph.
According to Ralph, part of that solution entails a community driven effort to address the mentally ill and housing.
“Let’s take $1 million of the $6 million dollar pot and put it toward creating some housing so these people aren’t just looping through the jail system. That’s a very concrete way of creating housing and getting people off the streets,” said Ralph.
The report also found that California has the highest rate of unsheltered homeless. Two-thirds of the 134,000 total homeless population, seek shelter in vehicles, abandoned buildings, parks or on the street.