Starting as a temporary evening shelter for the homeless in Santa Maria churches in 1987, Good Samaritan has since expanded in to multiple shelter programs, sobering centers, detox centers, mental health services, and more throughout Santa Barbara County.
“It’s really exciting; we’ve had to grow at a quick pace but it’s exciting to have new projects for individuals experiencing homelessness,” Executive Director Sylvia Barnard said.
In 2020, the Santa Maria-based nonprofit opened a sobering center in South County, created a step-down housing program, and oversaw the Hedges House of Hope shelter in Isla Vista. In addition, God Sam now runs the Dignity Moves interim housing project in Santa Barbara, she said. It also contracts with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara to provide support services for those under the Emergency Housing Vouchers program, which helps people afford rent.
“We look forward to continuing to grow [in] our partnership with the Housing Authority,” Barnard said. “They have some plans to provide additional units in South County, and we’re looking forward to working with them on that.”
In recognition of Good Sam’s work and efforts, the Housing Authority awarded the nonprofit with the 2022 Outstanding Partnership Award on Jan. 23, a recognition thanking organizations that help change lives for the better. Barnard said the award was voted on by authority employees, something that highlights the strength and partnership between the two entities.
“I’m super grateful for all the support Good Samaritan gets from our partner agencies in the communities,” she said. “It makes a difference in our ability to help deliver services, let alone grow. It reminds our staff how important the work is.”
Housing Authority CEO Rob Fredericks said he’s known Barnard for 20 years and has worked with her on housing solutions outside of the current partnership between their two organizations.
“She just relentlessly leans into these difficult social problems of providing people a safe place to be rather than being unsheltered,” Fredericks said. “She and her team are mission-driven to do good work, whether in their shelter in North County, Santa Maria, the shelters on the South Coast, or providing services to help get people housed and to retain their housing.”
The Housing Authority is a separate public agency from the city that administers federal rental assistance and focuses on developing affordable housing within Santa Barbara. For the last few years, Good Samaritan has been leasing property with four single-family homes from the Housing Authority, where the nonprofit also provides intensive services on-site and helps residents obtain more permanent housing and employment.
“We’re always looking for more collaborations together, and we don’t have anything formal in the works yet, but I really think we need more emergency shelter care in South County,” Fredericks said. “That’s where I believe organizations like Good Sam could be of help. They’ve proven they know what they’re doing with sheltering people.”
The Outstanding Partner award decision comes from a vote during the authority’s annual team meeting where everyone in the organization recognizes who they’ve worked with that’s made a difference in the authority’s mission in a positive way, he said.
“It’s wonderful when you have an organization like Good Samaritan; it’s easy to honor them and to lift them up and celebrate their good work,” Fredericks said. “It feels good. As a Housing Authority, as a county, and as a city, we recognize we can’t solve or address homelessness on our own. We need help from other terrific organizations like Good Sam.”
• The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department invites family-friendly bands who are interested in performing at the 2023 Summer Concerts in the Park to apply. Bands must submit a demo thumb drive, biography, and high-resolution picture to the Recreation and Parks Department (615 South McClelland St.), or an electronic press kit along with the application via email to [email protected] (subject line “Concerts”), by no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, April 14. Applications are available online at cityofsantamaria.org/recreation. Concerts in the Park are free, fun, and family friendly on Sunday afternoons from June through August. Direct questions to Santa Maria Recreation and Parks at (805) 925-0951, Ext. 2260.
• February is National Heart Month, and the cardiology team at French Hospital Medical Center (FHMC) announced on Feb. 6 that they have successfully performed the first mitral valve repair using the innovative MitraClip procedure—a minimally invasive treatment option for people with a severe leak in the mitral valve who are too high-risk for traditional open-heart surgery or select heart patients who remain symptomatic despite other medical therapy.
Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. Reach her at [email protected].