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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 8th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 19 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 19

Santa Barbara County picked for challenge to reduce youth homelessness

By Malea Martin

The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care and 20 local stakeholders launched a 100-Day Challenge to reduce youth homelessness in Santa Barbara County at the end of June, and things are already off to a great start.

“I’m so excited to have all of these partners involved,” said Lucille Boss, housing programs specialist at the county’s Housing and Community Development Division. “I was impressed by how many agencies wrote back and said, ‘Yes, we want to be part of this.’ It’s really encouraging that, as much as we’re all experiencing a lot of difficulty right now, they all stepped up and said ‘yes.’”

Some of those partners include local homeless shelters, school districts, colleges, housing authorities, and more. The partners will help facilitate the county’s goals during the challenge.

Boss explained that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has technical assistance providers who regularly facilitate the 100-Day Challenges. Out of a large pool of potential communities who could benefit from the challenge, just five are selected at a time, and Santa Barbara County got the call.

“We said, ‘Yes, we definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity,’” Boss said.

In Santa Barbara County school districts, according to a county press release, the California Department of Education reports that in the 2018-19 school year, 11.7 percent of students met the McKinney-Vento definition of a homeless youth. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is federal legislation that ensures rights and protections for youth experiencing homelessness. It defines youth homelessness as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

Boss said this definition includes children and youth who are sharing housing with other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasons. 

“There may be three or four families who are sharing housing, so that’s considered homeless children or youth because they don’t have that fixed, adequate, nighttime residence,” she said. “It also includes families that are living in motels, hotels, camping grounds, transitional shelters, or awaiting foster care placement.”

The county’s 100-Day Challenge goals include housing 50 youth, assigning a housing navigator to 100 percent of youth identified on a real-time list of people experiencing homelessness, and getting 75 percent of youth to accept case management with an individual service and housing retention plan. 

A housing navigator is someone who works “on all kinds of different pieces related to your general well-being,” Boss said. “They’re really focused on housing and finding you the right housing and supportive services, while a case manager may be focused on other pieces of your life and your general well-being.”

Boss said that while these aspirations are indeed ambitious, lofty goals are what the challenge is all about.

“You don’t actually focus on a process, you focus on an outcome,” Boss said of the 100-Day Challenge model. “They said to choose something that scares you, that makes you think, ‘There’s no way that we’re going to be able to do this.’ When you’re at that point, that is exactly where you need to be.” 










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Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

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