Santa Barbara Connect Home is a partnership of the City of Santa Barbara, CityNet, Cottage Health, and Santa Barbara Restorative Police. The program was made possible by a $2 million grant from the California Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), which will remain in effect until June 30, 2021. The Connect Home program has partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), which have executed Memorandums of Understanding, to set aside Tenant Based Rental Assistance Vouchers and shelter beds for this program. The Connect Home team collaborates with various community resources including, the Santa Barbara Fire Department, Home for Good/AmeriCorps, and the Downtown Ambassadors.
The program focuses on the needs of the most vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness and the highest utilizers of crisis services, such as police, fire, AMR and the emergency department. Clients are linked to coordinated case management and a mobile navigation center to ensure connection to housing, medical and support services. A team of outreach workers, including navigators, a registered nurse, and Restorative Police Officers, builds trust with these vulnerable clients to help them find the help they need.
Services are provided to the client in their location, including on the streets, in shelters, and in bridge, or temporary, housing. The outreach team focuses first on connecting the client to housing. Additional services include accessing sources of income, public benefits, and medical and behavioral health services. Once housed, clients continue to receive support from the outreach team to help ensure the client's success.
SB Connect Home has been operational since April 2019. Since launch, the project has continued to onboard staff and establish relationships with some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Early successes have included navigating individuals to permanent housing, relocating chronically unsheltered individuals from the streets to safe and supportive transitional shelters, and building relationships with individuals who are willing to engage in case management services, many receiving these services after a long period of declining, or not readily finding assistance.
City Net – 4 Case Managers
Cottage Health – 1 Site Navigator, 1 Registered Nurse
Restorative Police – 1 Restorative Officer
In the first few months of implementation, the Connect Home team has made an important impact in the community. The following are a few early success stories. All names are changed to protect the identity of the people served.
The Connect Home team met Jim at a local park. At first he seemed willing to accept assistance and enter into shelter, but soon his mental health issues, which made him prone to suspicion, made it difficult to for Jim to cooperate with the individuals that were trying to help him. The team did not give up on Jim, and through perseverance were able to break through his suspicions, and connect him with a housing provider. It was at this point that Jim was able to ask for the help he needed: relief from his debilitating mental health symptoms. The Connect Home team connected Jim to a mental health provider. He has been making steady progress and is working on obtaining housing. The Connect Home team will be there to guide Jim along his recovery and search for a safe home.
Even though he was wheelchair bound, Joe has a reputation of being difficult to locate on the streets. He suffered from several chronic health conditions and injuries that if left untreated, could become life-threatening. Even then Joe was not ready to accept the help he was being offered. Joe’s struggle with addiction has made it difficult for him to care for and advocate for himself, and he had not received regular medical care in years, even though his health necessitated it. The Connect Home team persisted and sought out Joe every time he came out of hiding. On one good day, Joe said yes: he accepted help. Joe received the medical care he needed, and his care team is working to secure Joe’s placement in permanent housing.
Developing a Plan
Charles met the Connect Home team through Restorative Court. His struggles to maintain sobriety landed him at the Intensive Care Unit, and later in jail. The Court asked the team to help Charles stay sober and help make him document ready for housing. Outreach workers helped Charles remain accountable with daily phone check-ins as he worked on his lengthy to-do list. Charles succeeded on getting an ID, his social security card, glasses, and much-needed dental care. He is now developing a plan for obtaining housing and employment.
John is an unofficial resident of a local park. John first became homeless after his wife passed away and he had to give up the apartment they lived in. Not having a mailing address has made it challenging to obtain rental assistance; he has lost important mail. John has a chronic lung disease, and he needs assistance breathing when he’s asleep, a difficult thing to do when sleeping outdoors. The Connect Home team helped John find a primary care provider and secure a housing voucher. Now they are working to find John a safe home.
Bob was one of the first Connect Home team’s clients. He had a debilitating leg injury and was initially a bit grumpy with the outreach team. This did not dissuade them, and over time Bob warmed up to the team and became the easy-going man whom case managers knew he was all along. The Connect Home team, PATH, Americorps, and PathPoint, worked together to identify housing for Bob. In September they worked together once again to have a warming party for Bob at his new apartment, where he will continue receiving support services to ensure his continual success.