ISLA VISTA, Calif. - This week, some of the Isla Vista homeless population will be inside newly constructed "tiny homes" and have a roof over their heads instead of sleeping in tents, out in the open or various shelters.
It is part of a special transitional program in Santa Barbara County for the next six months.
The Pallet Shelter homes are in the Isla Vista Community Center parking lot.
The Good Samaritan Shelter operators who have had success with homeless programs in Santa Maria will be running the homes.
Eligible members of the homeless population will be allowed to stay there under specific protocols.
The goal is to move the occupants into permanent housing, likely supported by government programs.
Pallet homes in Redondo Beach and Riverside are also in place as part of a similar program.
Each one is an 8 foot by 8 foot structure and costs $4900 each.
The funding comes from the CARES Act emergency budget during the COVID-19 crisis.
Isla Vista Community Services District General Manager Jonathan Abboud said seeing the housing going up is an essential part of the solutions necessary in the area. "It's about dignity, that what it is. It's a shelter. It's a place to live, somewhere you can call your own," he said.
Government funding was vital because the other logistics were ready to go into motion.
"It's hard for the government to do innovative, quick projects like this on a short time line but they did it," he said. "They are getting it done so it's really exciting to see it happen."
Good Samaritan shelter will administer the program.
Each 8 foot by 8 foot tiny house can have one or two people inside using drop down beds, a power outlet and a heater. Outside each person will have a locked personal storage area.
"They have some shelving, they have a place for their stuff and a light up above and we have a bin under each bed," said Sylvia Barnard with Good Samaritan. "Then we also have brought in the showers, the restrooms and they will have food service."
Each person here will receive assistance the entire time, "to really help them on their journey back to independence," said Barnard. "They deserve to be able to be safe and get their life back together and be able to have a productive future, and we want that."
Abboud says the program is impressive because of the collaboration. "We have energy, ideas, we have people and the federal government should support us more."
Barnard says next June the temporary housing will likely be moved somewhere else in the county for a similar program.