4 Nonprofits That Assist People in Need in Santa Barbara
Last spring, many Santa Barbara residents participated in an initiative that sent several hundred volunteers out into the community in order to determine the extent of the county’s homeless population. While the city itself has provided housing to a multitude of men, women, children, and veterans over the last few years, the number of individuals in need residing within the county still numbers 1,455, according to a recent survey.
Seeking to provide housing and other necessary resources to people in need in Santa Barbara and the surrounding county, the following local nonprofits welcome homeless men, women, and children:
The shelter Casa Esperanza is among the largest on California’s South Coast, and recently paired with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) in order to help a larger number of people off of the streets. In addition to the fundraising efforts that it sponsors to raise money to combat homelessness, Casa Esperanza also serves as transitional housing.
In order to access the organization’s resources, applicants must have previously resided in Santa Barbara for at least six months. In addition, they must make a commitment to remain sober during their stay at the shelter. Once an individual opts for interim housing at Casa Esperanza, he or she may participate in a wide range of on-site programs and services, including job development programs, mental health programs, and men’s and women’s support groups.
Additionally, Casa Esperanza operates a community kitchen where residents receive three meals per day, adding up to nearly 144,000 meals each year. The kitchen also functions as a distribution center that collects and allots food to other local nonprofit kitchens that help feed populations in need within the community.
Santa Barbara Street Medicine
Founded in 2005, the local charity Santa Barbara Street Medicine focuses on providing resources to the local homeless population through volunteer physicians. Comprised of volunteers with medical and non-medical experience, Santa Barbara Street Medicine is the local chapter of a larger organization that provides medical care to men, women, and children in need, as well as survivors of natural disasters.
Although the nonprofit is established in the form of clinics in the areas of Isla Vista and Alameda, the medical volunteers also participate in clinical work in areas such as Pershing Park near the Santa Barbara Harbor. This form of street medicine involves making rounds throughout downtown equipped with medical instruments and medication. This kind of medical practice is performed in the interest of caring for men and women who may not have the physical capability to walk to one of the charity’s freestanding clinics.
Santa Barbara Street Medicine takes health care one step further through its operation of the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic, a place where women in need can find resources to treat various physical and mental health ailments. Those who look to the clinic for help can also get assistance in accessing other community resources to protect them from abusive conditions.
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission
A faith-based emergency shelter, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM) focuses the majority of its funding and resources on helping residents to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Of the available beds at the mission, 100 are reserved specifically for men, a group which studies have suggested comprises the vast majority of the single homeless population.
At the SBRM, both men and women who stay overnight can store their luggage, take a nightly shower, attend chapel services, and receive both breakfast and dinner. Those who enroll in the organization’s year-long recovery programs are provided with a support network and educational plans designed to see them through the grueling process of coping with and overcoming alcohol and drug dependency.
The Mission also provides outpatient services several times a week in areas such as couples counseling, family support groups, relapse prevention, and many other mental health-related conditions.
For over 30 years, Transition House has focused on providing families a place to stay for up to four months when they find themselves faced with homelessness. Families who stay at Transition House participate in one of three programs designed to help them operate independently again in a home of their own.
The nonprofit’s first option allows families to stay for up to four months in the organization’s emergency housing shelter, where they are provided with shelter, food, and childcare. Additionally, parents receive case management services that help them identify and implement strategies that will put them on the path to a stable career.
Under the second housing option, families may apply to live in one of the low-cost apartments owned by Transition House, where they continue to work with a case manager in an effort to build a career with a sustainable income. In this way, the nonprofit helps the family accrue a savings through professional development, enabling the family to eventually reach a position in which they can comfortably move into a market-rate home of their own.
Another program at Transition House aims to prevent homelessness by providing financial support to parents from families with low incomes in the form of cash rental assistance. As in the other options, the goal is to help parents in families threatened by homelessness to pursue and hold down a job that allows them to improve their family’s economic circumstances.