SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Housing for so many in the Santa Barbara area has become increasingly problematic in the past six to eight months, especially for those out of work and homeless, often through no fault of their own.
UC Santa Barbara is dealing with a housing crisis among students by turning to local motels and hotels that are now doubling as dorms. The New Beginnings nonprofit organization is turning to the community to help those in need, trying to help themselves.
"Housing first" is the goal behind the organization's Rapid Rehousing Program which helps connect those living in their cars and RV's with participating landlords willing to open up their homes or granny flats to provide housing.
Rapid Rehousing was the cornerstone of this year's Annual Fundraiser Gala Thursday evening featuring Annabelle Gurwitch, a New York Times bestselling author, activist, and actress. NewsChannel 3-12 talked with Gurwitch at El Encanto where she shared how she recently opened up her home in Los Angles and became a landlord to a young couple living in their vehicle.
"They had been actually robbed in the car. They had had a series of bad airbnb experiences, these things happen and what they needed were services and case management. And by staying for a month in my home, they were able to stabilize their lives."
She chronicled the experience in a book released earlier this year titled, "You're Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility."
Gurwitch went through an L.A. area program similar to New Beginnings and connected with those needing a roof over their heads. She said her ties run long and deep to the Santa Barbara community, she even got married here. She said she's do it again and is excited to share her story with local residents, hoping they'll open up their hearts and homes to help those temporarily needing a stable home life.
"Have an open mind," said Michael Berton, New Beginnings Development Director. "You know, many of the people we work with are not people you would every expect would be homeless. They can be your nurse, your teacher, or you know, a family or someone you see at a store. I would just say to have an open mind and trust organizations like ours who are willing to partner with you and makes sure everything goes well with the client in their new home."
The non-profit is also organizing a free, online event for the community on October 7th, featuring an interview with Gurwitch and Julie Bowen, one of the leading stars in the wildly popular sitcom 'Modern Family.'