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Santa Barbara County holds first of three community forums to address homelessness

Homeless forum
Dave Alley/KEYT
Santa Barbara County holds first of three community forums to address homelessness

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Santa Barbara County is holding three community forums this week to address housing and homelessness.

The first meeting was held Monday at the Santa Maria Public Library.

For two hours, community members, along with several local government officials and leaders with various agencies participated in the meeting.

The meetings are next step in forwarding the county's Action Plan to Address Homelessness.

In June, Phase I was adopted by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Phase I created several key strategies that will be used to tackle the issue.

"Phase II is really about establishing a work plan, really an implementation of how we're going to address homelessness here," said Kimberlee Albers, Homeless Assistance Programs Manager. "It will help inform the number of units needed, resources that we need to figure out how to acquire, as well as services that are needed, potentially treatment, but it well help inform that. We're doing an in-depth gaps analysis based on the data we have from the homelessness management information system and the coordinated entry system."

During the meeting, a quick overview was given regarding homeless programs currently operating in the county.

For 90 minutes, a discussion then was held in an effort to gather input that will be used to create a work plan.

"It really does take the input of everyone," said Albers. "People have ideas. They are experiencing something on their block or their corner, and so the more we have community members have input into the plan, the more relevant it will be to their community, so we really encourage everyone to come back. We are doing a presentation at the beginning, but then it really is about gaining their feedback for these next steps."

For people who wish to participate in the process, two more meetings are scheduled this week.

"While it's super important that we have stakeholder input, it's just as important that we have people who are experiencing homelessness, as well as our residents with homes that are contributing to this process because you might be having contact with someone that has a need that we aren't capturing in the data because it's a smaller subset, so it's really, really important to hear the impact and challenges of the community, as well as their ideas of how we can solve homelessness here in Santa Barbara County," said Albers.

The next community forum will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the USSB Parish Hall in Santa Barbara.

The final meeting will take place at the Dick DeWees Senior Center in Lompoc on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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