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Santa Barbara on verge of declaring homeless ‘shelter emergency’

The city of Santa Barbara will address its homeless issue Tuesday morning during a city council meeting. They will vote to declare a shelter emergency in the city that could grant them millions of dollars to get people off the streets.

“There are about 900 homeless people without shelter in Santa Barbara,” said Chuck Flacks, the director of programs at PATH in Santa Barbara. “That is above the 100 that we house every night here at PATH.”

Soon there may be a solution to get the homeless off the streets and provide them the help they need.

“There is clearly a need,” said Flacks. “We have shelters in Santa Barbara, but there is not enough shelters to put everyone who wants housing into even temporary accommodations.”

Santa Barbara’s City Council plans a vote Tuesday morning to declare what’s called a shelter emergency. If approved, Santa Barbara County is eligible for up to 9.4 million dollars from the state’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program called (HEAP).

“Our hope is to create additional shelter beds, and rehousing programs,” said Flacks. “This is money to put people immediately into housing and keep them stable.”

“It could include housing, new projects, it could be used for rental assistance programs to help people get on their feet,” said Rob Fredericks, from Santa Barbara Housing Authority.

Across the state, HEAP provides 500-million dollars in block grants to cities and counties to address homelessness. It’s a one time grant many hope will make a dent in the homeless problem across the county.

“It’s not like these funds will be coming in every year,” said Fredericks. “We have to take advantage of this funding stream while we can.”

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