Tag Archives: homeless

The Making it Home Tour: Helping the Homeless Community Find Their PATH

Community members that are experiencing homelessness could often use a path to help guide them from the street into a home. Since the early 1980s, People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) has been helping individuals, veterans, and families requiring assistance find their way to long-term housing solutions. 

“We do that by really focusing on moving people off the streets, out of the shelter system, and into their own permanent home, but kind of providing the full continuum of services from streets to home,” said Tessa Madden Storms, PATH Santa Barbara Regional Director.

Today, PATH has become one of the largest organizations in the state to do so. With programs in about 150 cities spread throughout six main regions, PATH assists roughly 20% of the homeless population in California. PATH has been supporting the Santa Barbara homeless population since July 2015 and offers a range of services in the area. 

In town, PATH operates a 100-bed housing facility located on Cacique and Milpas, with guests usually staying between three to six months while working with PATH staff on their long-term housing goals. 

“We also have a couple of different community housing programs where we’re not necessarily just serving folks who are living with us onsite, but are serving individuals experiencing homelessness from throughout the Santa Barbara community,” Tessa said. 

PATH provides short-term financial assistance and case management in its rapid rehousing program, while launching a Scatter Site Permanent Supportive Housing Program last fall that provides long-term financial and rental support for 24 of the county’s most vulnerable individuals.

PATH offers a range of programs that support individuals and families facing homelessness with financial and employment assistance
PATH helps members of the community find permanent housing solutions

“We have also been able to add some additional community-based programming in the city and the county which includes employment services that are funded through a County Human Services grant and so we’re able to provide employment training, location, and retention services for folks who are work ready,” Tessa adds.

Part of PATH’s success is the close partnerships they have formed with other organizations.

“We have a lot of community contracts and partnerships that really feed into all of our programs and services. One of the main ones is with Cottage Health,” Tessa said. “They have a contract for 20 beds at PATH so we work with them very closely to support those folks that are getting referred from various programs.” 

Additionally, County Behavioral Wellness has a contract for 24 beds with PATH, while County Public Health operates a clinic on site for five days a week. With some creative bed placement and the support of partnering organizations, including Doctors Without Walls, PATH has been able to operate at about 85% of its normal capacity during the pandemic and are starting to accept new referrals from partners and relaunch programs as it is safe to do so.

Since 2015, PATH has served 3,500 members of the community in need, housed just under 500 individuals, and helped 600 people increase their income or gain paid employment.

In 2017, PATH was still a young organization in the area and wanted to introduce a signature event that would be unique while informing the community on their programs and mission. The incredible range of architecturally significant homes in the region seemed like an opportunity to celebrate the concept of home as it asked guests to look inward on what home means to them. The Making It Home Tour was launched that year and it quickly grew in popularity.

PATH serves around 20% of the homeless population in the state

On the tour, attendees would ride a historic trolley to four architecturally-revered local homes while learning about the different PATH programs along the journey. 

“You are kind of seeing the stark juxtaposition between some of the homes we’re visiting and facing the reality that there are still people experiencing homelessness on our streets,” Tessa explains, “but you’re also getting this unique look inside of these homes. It was an event that really got a lot of traction and I think that really did bring a lot of meaning, excitement, and support to the cause.” 

Naturally the Making It Home Tour did not take place last year, however they wanted to bring the popular event back this year in a safe way. A virtual event through Zoom will be held on June 5 from 3 to 4 pm that will bring a familiar experience but in a new format that allows them to share the event with the other Californian communities that PATH serves.

This year’s Making It Home Tour will feature the majestic motifs of famed Frank Lloyd Wright Jr.’s Warwick Evans House, along with the more whimsical forms from esteemed architect Jeff Shelton. There will also be a notable home in Orange County and visits to three of the PATH projects including the tiny home community they helped build in partnership with the city of San Jose.

The Zoom event will last about an hour and attendees will also be given access to a special website that offers inside looks at the featured properties and projects in addition to various workshops. Enjoy a floral arranging demonstration from A&J Floral Designs or try your hand at mixology with one of their guided cocktails courses by Loft & Bear Vodka or Shaun Belway, bar manager of the Bobcat Room.

The site allows attendees to enjoy the extra content on their own time and revisit the range of notable properties and meaningful projects. A general ticket ($50) comes with a little wine and snacks that make for an enjoyable afternoon at home. A VIP ticket ($150) for two offers a full experience with an array of goodies from their supporters, both locally and abroad, including a full bottle of wine with glasses, charcuterie, and something sweet to round out the night. 

More information on the different PATH programs and a link to Making It Home Tour tickets can be found at epath.org.

Path (People Assisting the Homeless) Hosts Fourth Annual Making It Home Tour

Experience a Virtual Guided Tour Celebrating the Meaning of Home

PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) hosts their fourth annual Making It Home Tour on Saturday, June 5, 2021, a virtual, guided journey through the homes of PATH supporters and residents across California. The virtual compilation of unique home tours and personal interviews celebrates the meaning of home after a year of accelerated homelessness due to COVID-19.

In March 2020, staying inside to keep local communities safe was paramount, and having a home was a privilege. Last year, PATH provided services to more than 26,000 people and helped 1,800 people move into their own homes.

“While we have made many adjustments this year, including teleworking and virtual events, one thing has remained the same: our mission to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities. The Making it Home Tour provides vital funds to sustain our work and an opportunity to showcase what home means to our supporters and the people we serve”, said Joel John Roberts, PATH CEO.

The Making It Home Tour will feature historic and architectural gems throughout

 California, including the famed Frank Lloyd Wright Jr.’s Warwick Evans House in Brentwood and one of the esteemed Architect Jeff Shelton’s Santa Barbara properties.

In addition to in-depth tours of each home, attendees will tour PATH Housing Sites in San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego and also gain access to interactive DIY home, decor, and design workshops from A&J Floral Designs, Loft & Bear Vodka and BobCat Room.

For ultimate viewing pleasure, special event packages are also available, mailed to each participant’s home the week of the event. Event packages include exclusive PATH wine glasses, wine from noteworthy California vineyards, travel-safe charcuterie items courtesy of Trader Joe’s, and more!

The Making It Home Tour streams on June 5, 2021 from 3 P.M. to 4 P.M. PST. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/path-making-it-home-tour-tickets-142755408269. All proceeds will go toward PATH’s mission of ending homelessness for individuals, families and communities.

Event sponsors include Variety, 805 Living, Urban Catalyst, Consumer Insights Group, The Tyler Family and Baked It Myself. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Carley Berkowitz, Community Event Specialist at PATH, at carleyb@epath.org.

Elected Official Briefing On Homelessness With PATH Santa Barbara

On Friday, April 23rd, People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) leadership will brief elected officials and their staff on the work PATH is doing in the Santa Barbara region to address homelessness.

The event will include presentations from PATH staff on pandemic impacts, Project Homekey, interim housing, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and employment. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for questions.

PATH Santa Barbara operates the former Casa Esperanza Interim Housing site, which provides a variety of services for our neighbors experiencing homelessness that include employment, outreach, housing navigation, interim housing, and rapid rehousing.

In 2020, PATH Santa Barbara helped the County open a 68-room, COVID-19 emergency motel for our unhoused neighbors in fragile physical health. Additionally, the interim housing site began the first of a two-phase renovation project which will create a more welcoming, trauma- informed environment to support our residents’ healing process.

Invitees include the offices of Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Alex Padilla, Congressman Salud Carbajal, Congresswoman Julia Brownley, State Senator Monique Limon, Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, Assemblymember Steve Bennett, Supervisor, Debbie Arnold, Supervisor Das Williams, Supervisor Matt LaVere, Mayor Cathy Murillo, Mayor Heidi Harmon, Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez, Councilmember Mike Jordan, Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, Councilmember Kristen Sneddon, Councilmember Eric Friedman, and Councilmember Meagan Harmon.     

About PATH

Founded in 1984, PATH is committed to ending homelessness for individuals, families, and communities in California. We do this by building affordable supportive housing and providing homeless services in more than 140 cities across the state. Our services support nearly 20 percent of the state’s population experiencing homelessness. Since 2013, PATH has helped more than 11,800 people move into permanent homes. More information at www.epath.org.

Making It Home Tour

PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) is hosting their fourth annual Making It Home Tour on June 5th, a virtual, guided journey through the homes of PATH supporters and tenants across California. We hope that you will join us for a pre-recorded, virtual compilation of unique home tours and personal interviews connecting us all to the question, “What does home mean to you?”. 

The Making It Home Tour celebrates the meaning of home. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an already pervasive problem: homelessness. The necessity of staying inside to keep our communities safe has made us all even more grateful to have a place to call home. What does home mean to you? 

Event Details 

A link to the virtual event will be sent to all ticket holders in advance, and we will all come together to watch as it streams on Saturday, June 5th, 2021. 

All guests will also receive: 

– Access to a private event website to explore on their own time, with in depth tours of each home highlighted in the streamed event, and access to interactive DIY home, decor, and design workshops. 

– Event package that will be mailed to your home the week of the event, to enjoy as we watch together on June 5th. Event packages include exclusive PATH wine glasses, premium wine, travel safe charcuterie items, and more. Please see ticket types for details on each package. 

Tickets can be purchased https://www.eventbrite.com/e/path-making-it-home-tour-tickets-142755408269

All proceeds from this event go towards PATH’s mission of ending homelessness for individuals, families, and communities.

For more information about PATH, visit www.epath.org.

More Than $13 Million in Rental and Utility Assistance Funds Made Available by the County of Santa Barbara through United Way of Santa Barbara County

Grants intend to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents. Grant applications can be found by visiting unitedwaysb.org/rent.

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has more than $13 million in rental and utility assistance funds generously allocated by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for eligible County of Santa Barbara residents, that have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Emergency Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents who can demonstrate the need for rental support.

Upon application approval, applicants may receive up to $6,000 over 3 months toward rental and utility expenses. Applicants can re-apply every 3 months up to maximum of 15 months. Assistance payments to applicants will be paid directly to landlord and/or utility providers on behalf of the applicant.

 “This rental and utility support is a lifeline for families who are dealing with the myriad of economic impacts due to COVID-19,” said Steve Ortiz, President and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “We are honored to have the County of Santa Barbara’s trust and partnership as we work to distribute these funds and provide significant relief to Santa Barbara County individuals and families during these difficult times,” said Ortiz.

The program will be available to all county residents at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), though qualifying individuals at or below 50 percent AMI will be prioritized. This program has strict eligibility requirements.

The program application process opened February 15 and will be available until all funds are expended or by December 30, 2021, whichever is first. To review eligibility requirements and to apply, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/rent

About United Way of Santa Barbara County 

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local nonprofit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families and seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health. To learn more, please visit unitedwaysb.org

New Leadership Team Implements Bold and Enduring Vision for Storyteller Children’s Center… Through the Pandemic and Beyond

New Executive Director, Development Director, and ECE Program Manager are bolstering support, partnerships, and programs for vulnerable toddlers and preschoolers.

Storyteller Children’s Center supports approximately 80 homeless and at-risk children and families per year

In the midst of the COVID-19-related protocols and lockdowns, Storyteller Children’s Center hasn’t stopped their momentum in serving the social, emotional, and scholastic needs of Santa Barbara’s homeless preschoolers. In the six months since Susan Cass took over in the role of Executive Director, the organization has brought on Adrienne De Guevara as Development Director and Maria Cervantes as ECE Program Manager. They have also remained open for the large majority of the year and achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 

“As one would expect, it has been particularly challenging for this leadership team to step into our roles during the pandemic,” noted Cass. “The economic hardships and needs of our families and students are greater than ever, so we need to remain focused on the opportunities rather than the obstacles. While new health and safety protocols have impacted our program delivery and revenue from fundraising events has steeply declined, we are committed to finding creative and strategic ways to continue to support our children, families, and staff during this time.”

Storyteller Children’s Center Executive Director Susan Cass
Storyteller Children’s Center Development Director Adrienne De Guevara

Adrienne De Guevara, previously with the Lobero Theatre Foundation, brings her combined experience in fundraising, sales, and event organizing to support Storyteller Children’s operation and program costs. As a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she serves on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access committee while also staying informed on the latest trends in philanthropy both locally and nationally. This year she also served on the selection committee for the 2020 National Philanthropy Day Honorees. 

For De Guevara, finding revenue has been all about reaching out and reactivating relationships. She has been identifying and applying for grants, upgrading the website to support online contributions, while managing the second virtual event to replace Storyteller’s annual lunchbox luncheon, “Lunch with Love,” which includes home-delivered meals to donors for a touch-base and connection. 

Storyteller Children’s Center ECE Program Manager Maria Cervantes

“This has been a challenging year for everyone,” said De Guevara. “It’s understandable that we are not necessarily top of mind with donors and funders, because we are all distracted and a bit overwhelmed. My approach is really applying the old fashion method of picking up the phone and saying ‘Hi, how are you?’ It’s incredible to me how responsive this community has been to our expressed needs.”

Maria Cervantes comes to Storyteller with 23 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Maria believes that every child deserves a high-quality early learning program and that ECE educators should be recognized for their research-based approach to development. A graduate of National University in San Diego, Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and will enter into a master’s degree program later this year. In 2016 Maria was awarded Preschool Teacher of the Year by Los Angeles Universal Preschool and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Maria will be overseeing programs at both Storyteller locations.

Cervantes’ primary focus is on supporting the foundation of the Storyteller’s therapeutic-based education: the teachers and staff.

“All teachers are carrying a great deal of added responsibilities and workload this year, and that’s threefold for Storyteller’s educators,” said Cervantes. “Not only do they have the curriculum and COVID protocols to navigate, but they are also trained to provide emotional support to students who have or are experiencing a great deal of trauma. Our students benefit when our teachers are supported with resources, technology, training, compensation, and… empathy.”

Operating out of two campuses on State Street and De La Vina Street, Storyteller Children’s Center supports approximately 80 homeless and at-risk children and families per year. Beyond their year-round educational program, they provide behavioral health services, two nutritious meals and one snack per day, medical screenings and home visits. Parents and guardians must be working or enrolled in a vocational program for students to qualify. The primary objectives for Storyteller are to foster social and emotional resiliency and kindergarten readiness, the most critical markers in the scholastic success of a child.

Making it Home

From 2015 through 2020, homelessness in Santa Barbara County grew by roughly 10% to 1,897 men, women and children. The deep and worsening economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 suggests that this trend will not simply continue but accelerate.

Enter PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness and equipped to help many of our neighbors experiencing homelessness move off the street and into homes of their own.

“We could end homelessness in this community,” says Tessa Madden Storms, PATH Santa Barbara’s regional director. “It has been done with larger populations.” 

Across the state, PATH serves 20% of the homeless population and has housed more than 10,000 individuals. While this may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s 150,000-plus homeless population, it is an astounding feat considering it was accomplished by a single nonprofit.

The trick, Madden Storms explains, is the agency’s comprehensive, research-driven approach. Alongside permanent supportive housing, PATH runs rapid re-housing, housing navigation, interim housing, and employment programs. 

A cornerstone effort the organization is undertaking here in Santa Barbara focuses on housing and intensive care for the county’s 24 most-in-need houseless individuals. 

“These neighbors are the most visible. The people you see panhandling on State Street,” says JB Bowlin, associate director of philanthropy and volunteers. “The highest utilizers of public services.” 

A seminal study out of Denver, where a similar program was launched, found that half had better health outcomes, mental health improved for 43 percent, while substance abuse dropped significantly. While expensive, moving chronically homeless individuals off the street and surrounding them with intensive support services is 45% cheaper than doing nothing. 

PATH’s interim housing program serves some 600 people a year, many of whom take advantage of the organization’s suite of other programs.

“We are focused on ending homelessness holistically, and we understand how to get there from every different angle,” Madden Storms says. “Our vision is to end homelessness across the community. We strive to make sure everyone can make it home permanently.” 

A New Beginning for Santa Barbara’s Most Vulnerable

While New Beginnings’ work began with its counseling services more than 50 years ago, it has grown into a countywide service agency not only supporting mental health, but also the homeless and vets.

“We’re here to serve our most vulnerable community members with their most pressing problems,” says Development Manager Michael Berton. “We’ve identified those to be mental illness and homelessness. We’ve seen the veteran population struggle with these areas even more and have a dedicated program for them now.”

A major turning point came in 2003, when the nonprofit partnered with the city and the county to launch the “Safe Parking” Program, which provides safe, overnight shelter in monitored parking lots for people living out of their cars. The 2020 homeless count found that 51% of Santa Barbara County’s unsheltered residents were living out of their cars. 

When Safe Parking was started, big media outlets including Rolling Stone, CNN, and The Los Angeles Times took notice, lauding the program as a way off the streets for those on the brink of homelessness. Since 2003, New Beginnings has moved more than 2,000 people into permanent housing, making Safe Parking a standout among myriad national initiatives aimed at mitigating the deepening homelessness crisis.

New Beginnings is also the leading nonprofit service provider for homeless veterans in Santa Barbara County, housing 100 veterans and their families each year, all while providing comprehensive services aimed at keeping them off the street.

The agency’s 50-year-old Counseling Center in downtown Santa Barbara provides mental health counseling and psychological testing and assessment to more than 600 at-risk individuals and families in the greater Santa Barbara area each year. It’s 30-plus masters and doctoral level counselors offer their services at an average of $13 per session thanks to the nonprofits exceedingly lean operation: 91% of revenue is spent on programs and clients.

In 2020, the agency put more than a quarter of its $2 million a year budget – $600,000 – back into the community; buying mattresses for its homeless clients, renting storage spaces, and covering rental costs. Whatever it takes to help.

For donors looking to make an impact and who want to know that their money is going straight into helping people, Berton frankly says: “New Beginnings is the most bang for your buck.”

We Are Family

In the 1960s, the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan laid the groundwork for our understanding of the value of early education. 

A sample of 58 low-income students received high quality preschool, while a control group of an additional 63 had none. Researchers then followed those children until age 40. On all measures – high school graduation, income, arrest rates – the adults that had high quality preschool did better. The return was a jaw-dropping $16 for every dollar invested. 

So what does Ypsilanti have to do with Santa Barbara? Well, the latter is home to Storyteller Children’s Center, a therapeutic preschool that provides high-quality early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children and comprehensive support services for their families. 

Founded in 1988, the school serves 80 children and their families a year. Storyteller’s recently appointed executive director, Susan Cass, sees the center’s work as “critical to breaking the cycle of poverty in Santa Barbara.” 

“This marginalized population that we serve is a large portion of our county,” Cass says, an allusion to Santa Barbara’s ignominious distinction of having the third highest poverty rate in California. “There are a lot of people in our community struggling without alternatives for childcare. Storyteller provides these families with the support they need to address and overcome their challenges so they can build a better life for themselves and their children.”

Storyteller’s teachers and staff receive double the amount of required training for early childhood educators and are committed to ensuring that children and their families have the tools and resources they need to thrive. Whether it be through mental health support services offered in partnership with CALM and Casa Pacifica, monthly parent meetings, or bi-annual home visits, the children’s center is focused on much more than the child alone. “We are a whole family service,” Cass says. 

One desperately needed in Santa Barbara. A 2017 countywide needs assessment conducted found that more than 35,000 children were in need of early education and childcare, while the number of available slots stood at just under 18,000, after tumbling by more than 1,200 in the preceding decade. For the working poor, whom Storyteller serves, the need is even more acute. 

Cass envisions a future where she and her team can devote more energy to improving the lives of the entire families, which she knows – and research shows – will have a powerful ripple effect in our community, only making it stronger with each passing year.