Wednesday, December 12, 2007

10-Year Plan gets funding for director


A recent donation from an organization of local faith leaders to Santa Barbara County’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness has pushed fundraising levels high enough to pursue the hiring of an executive director to oversee the homelessness initiative.
Members of Santa Barbara Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, or CLUE, presented a check for $5,200 to Casa Esperanza yesterday morning in support of the initiative.

“With this, we’re at about $120,000, which we’ll need for public outreach and hiring an executive director,” said Jeanette Duncan, chair of the 10-Year Plan’s governing board. “…The whole religious community came together to pool money and support us.”
Mike Foley, director of Casa Esperanza, echoed Duncan, saying the $5,200 “puts us over the top,” allowing the board to finalize a job description and start a candidate search early next year.
Donations have also come from a number of local foundations and individual donors, including the St. Francis Foundation, Hutton Foundation, McCune Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, and Fund for Santa Barbara, among others.
CLUE’s director, Frank Newton, said he first became aware of the need for funds when contacted by Roger Heroux, a consultant that has worked closely with the 10-Year Plan.
“Roger came and spoke to CLUE and asked if we could raise some money,” Newton said. “We’re very proud that the money we raised put them over the top. … We’re hoping that what we have done so far will encourage other churches in town to get involved.”
Although CLUE has worked on a variety of issues during its four-year history, its founder, Rev. Mark Asman of Trinity Episcopal Church, called the homelessness issue extremely important.
“I think it’s critical,” he said. “How we treat, how we care for, how we support the people in our community most at risk is a critical issue.”
Newton said he expects support for the 10-Year Plan from CLUE to continue as the project moves forward.
“Having faith is not a spectator sport,” he said. “We should not be going to church and then going home again. Instead of passive, the goal is to try to be active.”
Ratified by the Board of Supervisors about a year ago, the homelessness initiative has also been approved by many local and regional municipalities, including the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria.
“This is something that so many of us have been working at on our own time while wearing many different hats,” said Helene Schneider, a Santa Barbara City Councilmember who also sits on the governing board of the 10-Year Plan.
That board consists of 30 members from across the county, including five elected officials and two homeless members.
Schneider said the executive director, once hired, will be responsible for collecting information on housing projects, potential funding sources, gaps in services, and the current homeless count in Santa Barbara County — to essentially oversee the implementation of the 10-Year Plan.
“We need to put that together in an easy-to-comprehend packet and let people know what we’re up to,” she said. “I think having a full-time executive director will keep that continuity going.”
With the director in place, Duncan said the initiative will need at least $150,000 to remain in motion. She described the 10-Year Plan’s focus as multi-layered, including prevention, intervention, support services, permanent supportive housing and economic self-sufficiency.
“It talks about the current drag on services first and then looks at solutions,” Duncan said. “…We have a goal of so many housing units and the different county and nonprofit services will work with the housing to provide care and support to residents.”
Within a year and a half, she said the governing board plans to have about 30 supportive housing projects in the works, to meet a goal of providing 500 new beds countywide within three years.
“We’re actually following the plan pretty well so far,” Schneider said, adding that projects similar to El Carrillo Studios, a 61-room housing project for the homeless and near homeless, are already in the pipeline to reach that goal.

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