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Council Approves Funding for Casa Esperanza

After little debate, Santa Barbara City Council members voted unanimously to fund Casa Esperanza’s new plan for helping the homeless.

Casa Esperanza Executive Director Michael Foley said the city agreed to shift $93,000 in federal grants and other funds to a new 24-hour sobriety shelter. The money used to fund drop-in programs and lunches for anyone.

Now men and women seeking shelter must agree to refrain from using drugs or alcohol.

Foley estimated that 50 percent to 60 percent have substance abuse issues.

The center had to get its finances in order by seeking public donations and cutting programs that don’t necessarily help people go from homelessness to housing.

One former alcoholic and volunteer said she believes the accountability will help people have better lives.

Rev. Mark Asman said the shelter won’t be able to help everyone anymore.

The shelter raised about $415,000 during a donation effort that started in September. The donations came from about 375 people. A talent show fundraiser also helped.

The money will help add 100 beds when warming shelter space opens Dec. 1.

Casa Esperanza still needs to raise more, and the annual budget is estimated to be $1.6 million.

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