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So Cal Diverting Homeless Funding to Others???

by Public Advocate/ So Coast Homeles Advis Comm Friday, Jun. 15, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Public Advocate on Santa Barbara Homeless task force blasts diversion of moneys away from homeless, rape crisis and other vulnerable populations to other perhaps worthy causes outside of the mandate. This is what is called a usurpation or diversion issue, in social worker lingo, but means basically that those on the bottom of the barrel continue to be overlooked by "helpers",

Date: Tue, 8 May 2012 08:06:10 -0700
Subject: Re: County CDGB/ESG Administrative Agenda May 8, 2012
Thank you for your email and input. 


    I am a public policy critic and advocate for persons who are characterized as "homeless". I am a member of the South Coast Homeless Advisory Committee of Santa Barbara but am writing solely as an individual citizen. I am also the founder of various networks including Houseless Not Homeless and Teach Cough Hygiene Everywhere which have attracted support from many prominent advocates and activists in this county.

I have reviewed the CDBG, ESG and Home Consortium grants and would like to submit the following points for public comment, to wit:

* There is at the Federal level a shift to prevention of homelessness which amounts to subsidizing non-homeless persons who may be in financial distress. I support that when children, frail elderly or severely disabled persons are impacted provided there is research and documentation supporting the hope that these are not merely temporary fixes for situations in which the same people become homeless a few months later. Nevertheless, that kind of programming, even if successful, does not address the problem of persons currently classified as homeless except insofar as it prevents swelling the ranks of the homeless. An admirable objective, but one falling far short of earlier goals. Are we now ratcheting back expectations?

* The Action Plan and Amendment fail to adequately fund outreach, which is one of the three major components which are Federally mandated. As per my verbal comment May 1, among the programs not funded is St Bridgett's Fellowship, which does in fact do street outreach. What is most valuable is its' collaboration with Doctors Without Walls. Despite my perhaps relentless criticism of some of its operational philosophy, in the final analysis I must urge the Board consider renewing this funding because DWW and Santa Barbara Street Medicine are, in fact, national leaders who do accomplish quite a bit of good. This includes a net result of preventing some transmission of infectious disease which could impact county general fund expenditures.

* The apparent definition of "emergency shelter" to include only semi-permanent operations such as Casa Esperanza and BridgeHouse is unfortunate.Freedom Warming Centers, another subject of my public policy critique, is also in the final analysis a net beneficiary to the county. In my view, it is more cost effective to fund shelter on the ten or twenty worst days, in terms of weather, than to pour money into 365 day shelters which often become almostdefacto semi-permanent places of residence.

*Nevertheless, Casa Esperanza sets a very high standard in its on-site presence of public health nursing staff, accountability to the neighborhood and open-door accessibility of its management. This is much more than I can say for most grantees, who tend to shroud their operations in secrecy and covet their operational models as trade secrets. Casa Esperanza maintains a gold standard of transparency to which all other NOFA applicants should aspire.

Thank you for your kind consideration of these remarks, which were made under an extremely tight deadline and should be understood as "shooting from the hip". I apologize in advance to any parties who may feel that their cause has been inappropriately characterized or criticized in these comments, however I do not have the luxury of time to revise them and will have to learn to live with the repurcussions should any party take offense. That is a price I am willing to pay to make these points known to the Board and I hope that during the next grant cycle I will be "in the loop" earlier rather than later so that I can properly review the applicants from an advocacy perspective. 

                     Hopefully remaining, 

                              Your very truly,


P.S. I find it lamentable if no method can be found to provide $5,000 each to the Rape Crisis Center and the ILRC,[Independent Living Resource Center] via the measure proposed by Supervisor Wolf or some other means. Homeless women are particularly vulnerable to the circumstances attended to by both of these admirable programs and it would be a shame if they were sent away without funding. 
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