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Grand Jury: Lack of housing for homeless programs causes barriers in Santa Barbara County

John Palminteri

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- A Grand Jury addressed homeless programs in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday.

The grand jury concluded that the county must make an effort to push back barriers to secure more housing for the homeless.

In 2020, California proposed two programs with one-time funding to help communities manage homeless populations.

The two programs were Project Roomkey and Project Homekey.

Both programs were put together during the COVID-19 pandemic to help prevent the spread of COVID in the homeless community.

Project Roomkey helped with short-term hotel rooms for the elderly homeless population and Project Homekey helped with transitioning the elderly homeless populations towards permanent housing.

The first funding for Project Roomkey ended on September 30, 2021 and the funding for Project Homekey ended December 31, 2020.

The grand jury says the county took promising steps to address homelessness with the one-time state funding. They say County agencies achieved the impossible with the time they had and successfully accomplished providing housing for the homeless within months.

Though there were successes from the initial funding, the grand jury said the lack of housing in Santa Barbara County has caused barriers for the homeless projects to find further successes.

The grand jury said property owners are reluctant to sell their properties and local funds are not sustainable for housing programs.

The 2021 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury is looking into these barriers for the programs.

For 2021 to 2022, there will be another $150 million in state funding for Project Roomkey and $1.45 billion for Project Homekey. The future funding after 2022 is uncertain.

For more on the grand jury finding, click here.

Julia Nguyen

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