PATH Santa Barbara recruits a community to reverse the trend of homelessness | Good for Santa Barbara
[Noozhawk’s note: Third in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article, and click here for the second.]
PATH Santa Barbara has served over 3,500 people and helped 475 homeless residents transition to permanent housing since arriving in Santa Barbara six years ago, an effort made possible only by the help and collaboration of many local organizations and businesses.
“Homelessness is a multi-faceted problem, there are many pieces to the puzzle,” Tessa Madden Storms, regional director of the nonprofit in Santa Barbara, told Noozhawk.
“We are constantly evolving, we are constantly saying: what can we do in partnership to help better serve the people who benefit from our programs? “”
Storms recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
“There are so many different facets of homelessness, so many things that come into play, so many obstacles and so many resources,” she said. “It really takes careful collaboration and coordination to get this commitment of solidarity from other suppliers. “
The Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation (SB Act) was created by the City of Santa Barbara two years ago as a third-party coordinating body that ensures that PATH makes specific plans for homeless services and s ensures that all partners come to the table, says Storms.
“They’ve done a little bit of everything, they’re really essential to PATH’s success,” she continued. “They help facilitate those conversations and help people come together to have those much-needed discussions. “
Storms described SB Act as the coordinating body that brings everyone together to develop a real community action plan to tackle homelessness issues.
High school and college organizations volunteer their time to prepare and cook food, organize dinner service, and serve the residents of PATH Santa Barbara. (Photo CHEMIN Santa Barbara)
“They’re very solution-oriented, and that’s also what we are at PATH,” she said. “It was really cool to see them come on board with that mentality and we quickly got hooked on that.”
Jeff Shaffer, director of initiatives at SB Act, said the organization operates through collective impact, creating a common agenda for the entire community. SB Act created a three-year program, executing community action plans on the Eastside, Waterfront and State Street, he said.
“The overall goal of Collective Impact is to get everyone in the same direction with the resources they can provide,” Shaffer said. “There are all these pieces that have to be put together to solve this puzzle, neighborhood by neighborhood. “
The SB Act introduced PATH in monthly community meetings where service providers, city staff, council members and business members are all in attendance, Shaffer said.
“Most of the time, the business community and residents don’t see the impact and success of PATH,” he said. “At these monthly meetings, PATH is able to present numbers and data so the community can see the story from the inside out instead of just seeing the issues in their neighborhood. “
SB Act works with the Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Department, CityNet, and other co-response groups to run homeless awareness programs.
PATH also partners with many local government agencies including City Council, Police Department, County Oversight Board, Behavioral Welfare, and County Probation and Public Health Services, among others.
Volunteers from a large number of community groups are mobilizing to help PATH Santa Barbara in its mission. (Photo Chemin Santa Barbara)
Government entities constitute a “third body” that oversees PATH’s homeless service providers to help dictate where funding is deployed, Storms said.
“They play a huge role in funding the work we do and help guide policy policies regarding homeless services,” she added.
The Behavioral Wellness Department assists homelessness services and outreach teams across the county, and has an important partnership with PATH on the South Coast, said Suzanne Grimmesey, spokesperson for Behavioral Wellness.
“When people stay at PATH, some have compiled mental health needs, and our relationships help provide that support,” she said. “When we work together as a community to try to end homelessness, it really takes collaboration.
“I don’t think a single agency can do it alone, PATH and Behavioral Wellness have been very strong partners in this goal. “
A public health team is on site at the PATH shelter, located at 816 Cacique Street in the Lower Eastside, daily from 8 a.m. to noon, Storms said. She touted the impact of having a clinic on site so that the general homeless community could access medical services over the past year.
Cottage Health is providing PATH with up to 90 days of support and 10 beds for the Convalescent Care program, which provides a place for people who are homeless and with acute medical needs to recover, said Monica Ray, program manager. Cottage Population Health.
The county’s largest healthcare organization is also providing an on-site registered nurse to help patients achieve their medical goals, she added.
“These people who experience homelessness so often have medical needs that are not addressed,” said Ray. “Having a hospital and healthcare providers partnering with the shelter is essential – essential to the overall well-being, health and success of these people. “
Ray said one of PATH’s dorms is reserved for patients in the Cottage Health partnership programs. In the winter, Cottage partnered with PATH and the public health department to provide on-site COVID-19 testing to all residents, she added.
PATH also has a long list of community volunteers who donate food, help prepare meals and even organize community clean-up events, said John Bowlin, associate director of philanthropy and community affairs for PATH.
“Volunteers are kind of the heart and soul of PATH,” he explained. “If it hadn’t been for all the hours they give in their free time, we wouldn’t be able to make PATH work. “
Mu Delta, a pre-medical fraternity at UC Santa Barbara, has many members who volunteer at PATH on a weekly basis, and the fraternity occasionally hosts clothing drives so that PATH can provide clothing to its residents as per needs, said Rahim Burdette, Mu Delta President.
“With many members volunteering each week and the fellowship as a whole coming together to organize various clothing drives for PATH, we are happy to help our local community facing homelessness,” he said. .
“Mu Delta’s efforts are important in the fight to end homelessness because this fight must be understood from many angles to be tackled effectively, including, but not limited to, community awareness, understanding implications of homelessness for health care and, more importantly, compassion. and empathy at the individual level for those experiencing homelessness.
Members of Boys Team Charity, a volunteer service organization dedicated to developing a selfless spirit in young men, help prepare and cook food, organize dinner service, and serve food to residents and residents. PATH visitors.
San Marcos High School junior Jordan Lind and his brother Jaden have volunteered at the PATH shelter almost every Saturday night since May 2020 after PATH lost many volunteers to the pandemic, he said. . The brothers have volunteered more than 150 hours since then, he added.
“The volunteering at PATH has been amazing,” said Lind. “We have gotten to know many residents and it is very moving every time a resident ‘graduates’ to a transfer house to independent accommodation.
“When we see one of the townspeople it’s always nice to say hello and check out how they’re doing.”
Oceanhills Covenant Church is providing gifts during the holiday season so no one at the PATH shelter goes without a Christmas present, said Daniel Johnson, director of Oceanhills’ compassion, mercy and justice ministries.
The church distributes surplus PATH groceries to people staying temporarily in motels or camps, and occasionally cuts vegetables in the back to ensure dinner is served to guests on time, he said. declared.
“Mitigating homelessness, if this is to be a successful effort, has to be a collaborative effort,” Johnson said. “I like to think of an organization like PATH as one of the fundamental mechanical components of an engine, and Oceanhills is something like lubricant to just help that engine do what it’s designed to do.”
Other community groups that volunteer at PATH include Teens on the Scene, Westmont College, Antioch University Santa Barbara, UCSB, Crane Country Day School, Cate School, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, and Trinity Episcopal Church.
“These volunteers make sure our residents are taken care of, they make sure the projects we need support for are completed, and hopefully they’ll come out of it, that’s what they do. feel invested and dedicated to PATH, ”Bowlin said.
Click here for more information on PATH Santa Barbara, or click here to donate online.