First published in the Santa Barbara Independent on April 29, 2021.
The pandemic has made the issue of homelessness in the City of Goleta much more urgent, Councilmember James Kyriaco said after the city approved its first-ever Homelessness Strategic Plan on Tuesday. “Our homeless population went from around 100 to 150 or so,” he noted in a conversation after the vote was held.
The plan will help the city direct and coordinate efforts to address homelessness in Goleta and assist those experiencing it. The plan — which was more than two years in the making — states goals to increase access to services for homeless people, reduce the impacts of homelessness on the Goleta community, prevent homelessness among at-risk individuals, and increase the supply of transitional, permanent, and emergency housing.
Kyriaco said this plan represents a vital shift in thinking from a regional approach to a smaller-scale, city-focused one. “What we’re finding is the number of homeless individuals in Goleta is going up, the number of homeless families with children is going up, and the number of families in cars is going up,” Kyriaco said. “Homelessness is an issue that is deeply personal for so many of our community members, and it is important that our solutions get it right the first time.”
The goals and framework established in the plan will endure over its 10-year span, but continual assessment and analysis will take place to ensure needs are being met as they change. Its approval was an important step for the City of Goleta, which has engaged in efforts to address homelessness for years — this year alone, the city will devote more than $100,000 to homeless assistance programs.
“I’m very excited this plan was passed — without it, it was hard for staff and the City Council to know which actions or programs should be prioritized and which building blocks we need,” said Councilmember Stuart Kasdin. “With a plan like this, it gives us some sort of grounding by which we can strategically figure it out.”