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    Santa Barbara County’s Homelessness Count 2023: Initial Results Revealed

    Santa Barbara County's 2023 Homelessness Count Shows a 3.7% Reduction in Unsheltered Individuals

    Preliminary results of the 2023 Point in Time (PIT) Count of persons experiencing homelessness were released today. Conducted on January 25, 2023, by the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care (Continuum of Care), the Count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and serves as a snapshot of homelessness in the county on a single night.

    Countywide, 1,887 persons were counted, representing a decrease of 3.7% in the number of persons experiencing homelessness. The count includes 1,202 persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness and 685 persons living in emergency shelters or transitional housing. More than 77% of persons surveyed during the count reported losing housing while living in Santa Barbara County.

    YearShelteredUnshelteredTotal Persons Counted Experiencing Homelessness

    The County Board of Supervisors, Continuum of Care and cities adopted a Community Action Plan to Address Homelessness in 2021. The Community Action Plan outlines key strategies and action steps. Following adoption, 140 shelter beds and over 800 opportunities for permanent housing have been added to the homelessness response system. 1,050 persons transitioned out of homelessness into permanent housing despite soaring rents and an extremely low rental vacancy rate in 2022. This significant achievement was made possible through the collaborative efforts of dedicated service providers. The county has made significant investments in shelter, housing and services, including resolving 154 encampments.

    Contributing to this success was the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program. HUD provided a total of 272 long-term rental subsidy vouchers to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara. The two housing authorities worked with the Continuum of Care and the County of Santa Barbara to successfully lease up all vouchers ending homelessness for hundreds of local families and individuals. Local program implementation has received national recognition for the efficient utilization of this valuable permanent housing resource.

    The table below provides total count data by city or area for the past three counts.

    City/Area2023 Total2022 Total2020 Total
    Santa Barbara787822914
    Isla Vista8811269
    Unincorporated South737661
    Buellton/Solvang/Santa Ynez Valley20122
    Santa Maria472457382
    Unincorporated North477950

    This year’s point-in-time count identified the distribution of the population experiencing homelessness as 59% in south county (1,107 persons) and 41% in mid and north county (780 persons). The homeless population decreased over all, but increased in Carpinteria, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez Valley and Guadalupe.

    Additional interim housing beds are under development. A public-private collaboration between Good Samaritan Shelters, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center, DignityMoves and the County of Santa Barbara will construct and open Hope Village, an interim supportive housing community later this year. It will add 94 new non-congregate shelter rooms in Santa Maria.

    “Hope Village is a necessary and temporary first step in addressing the homeless problem in the Santa Maria Valley. The services, sanctuaries, and security needed for the unhoused will be present each day to ensure they can overcome their individual issues and move forward as a member of our community,” said Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson.

    The Continuum of Care and County of Santa Barbara recruited more than 400 volunteers to assist at 5:00 a.m. to canvas 89 census tracts across the county. The methodology is in alignment with national best practices, relies on geographic coverage, and has remained consistent since 2019. A mobile application from Simtech Solutions provided real-time data to logistics centers from volunteers out canvasing and counting.

    The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care promotes community-wide planning and strategic use of resources and programs targeted to people experiencing homelessness. The County of Santa Barbara serves as the lead agency and Administrative Entity for the Continuum of Care. The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care Board will receive the complete 2023 Point in Time Count report and presentation on May 4, 2023, at 2 p.m. via Zoom.

    For additional details on the 2023 Point in Time report, contact Kimberlee Albers, Homeless Assistance Programs Manager at kalbers@co.santa-barbara.ca.us or (805) 695-6333.



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