SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Santa Barbara City Council members voted unanimously to approve the use of an unnamed hotel to provide temporary safe shelter for the unhoused and to begin cleanup of fire prone encampments.
The city council members heard about a dozen public comments in support of the the plan, although some criticized the timeline. A couple speakers believe the city is motivated by the recent Loma Fire that impacted people with housing rather than the homeless crisis.
The fire was apparently sparked by a homeless person on private property.
Others emailed the city complaining about the high cost.
The approved plan will use state grants and Measure C funds to pay for the cost of hotel rooms and services that will help people find permanent housing.
The vote authorizes city staff to enter an agreement with Kingdom Causes, Inc., DBA City Net to provide the services.
Mayor Cathy Murillo said, "We trust City Net to handle this project appropriately we are trying to help the unhoused population and reduce the impacts of homelessness."
The city is downplaying the location, but it is in a hotel that allows pets and that the nonprofit City Net has worked with it before.
Critics who don't like the $1.6 million price tag sent emails to the city.
The money will cover services to help create a bridge to more permanent housing.
"In the long run it does save money, if you look at the amount of resources that are going now to essentially do nothing or solve nothing this in comparison is a good use of taxpayer dollars," City Net president Brad Fieldhouse said.
City Net and its partners say they have seen programs like this work in other communities.
"Hotel rooms are something that people in the encampments are more likely to take as an incentive to move," Jeff Shaffer of Santa Barbara ACT said.
The pilot program will last 120 days.