Report shows homeless languishing in San Luis Obispo County

January 8, 2014


San Luis Obispo County is ranked third in the nation for the highest percent of homeless who sleep unsheltered and is bucking the national trend of reducing homelessness, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report made to Congress.

In San Luis Obispo County, 90 percent of homeless sleep unsheltered. Nationally, 35 percent of homeless sleep in unsheltered locations, the report says.

Nationally, since 2007, there has been a 27 percent decrease in the percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, the report says. During the same period, the number of people staying in shelters increased by less than 1 percent and the total number of homeless decreased by 9 percent.

A national effort to reduce homelessness through a plan that promotes rapid rehousing programs for homeless families and some adults and supportive housing for the chronically homeless has resulted in a 4 percent reduction in overall homelessness from 2012 to 2013, the report says. These programs focus on quickly helping homeless find employment, housing, mental health services and connecting them with social service programs.

In San Luis Obispo County, where efforts to help homeless have focused on building a hundred bed shelter and mandating that homeless agree to a case management program that requires they relinquish financial control of their income, the number of homeless increased 3 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the SLO County 2013 homeless report.

A report released last year by SLO County’s Homelessness Services Oversight Council details the failures of the county’s “10-year-plan to end homelessness.” SLO County Social Services Director Lee Collins told the County Board of Supervisors in November that non-sheltered homeless people also stress county and private medical resources.

Supervisor Adam Hill questioned the validity of the county report and its depiction of homeless people. Hill argued that while the report noted the plan’s failures, it did not mention the people they had helped.

Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) homeless services director Dee Torres originally argued against diverting from the 10-year-plan and moving homeless funding efforts toward long-term housing. However, at the supervisor meeting in November, Torres changed her position saying she could support the plan as long as those placed into housing would be required to work with case management which she felt the county should not oversee.

Currently, homeless wanting to secure a bed in the homeless shelter are required to enter CAPSLO case management which mandates that clients dole out about 50 percent of their income to CAPSLO or an affiliate agency to be managed.


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Homeless without homes? This is a joke right?

How can anyone support CAPSLO, when the un-sheltered homeless rate is currently at 90%? What are they doing? We need to know.

They conducted a pilot program to allow “5 homeless with vehicles” to park in their lot overnight. Sounds pretty silly with 90% of the homeless population unsheltered–doesn’t it?

There may be legitimate criticisms about how CAPSLO has run its homeless programs but this is not one of them. They have been trying for years to get a bigger and better shelter. If they have fallen short it is because of lack of funding and NIMBYism.

Could it be that SLO has a higher rate of un-sheltered homeless because there are a disproportionate number of them given our population? Could that be due to SLO being an otherwise good place to live — even for homeless? Maybe CAPSLO is not quite as bad an organization for the majority of homeless as CCN articles would have you believe?

What is further unconscionable is Capslo’s ties with the People’s Kitchen of SLO,

Partnered with and located at the Prado Day Center facility, the People’s Kitchen enables Capslo to have a stranglehold on the general public’s freedom to be served a daily lunch, inhibited by it’s strict institutional rules and regulations.

Future plans for the proposed 200 bed facility include a commercialkitchen run by the People’s Kitchen.

info posted: “Its called Math; Montana 1 in 836 are homeless;California 1 in 290 are homeless; SLO County 1 in 125 are homeless; I consider this ‘flocking to SLO’”

I do too. We like to think we’re special people living in a special county when it’s really just weather! Wouldn’t it be funny (and it’s possible now, with the internet and social media) if homeless across the nation, from the worst cities, finally got wise and caught wind of our lovely climate and started flocking here by the convoys, in old beaten down motor homes and vans? In fact, I think I’m going to start posting announcements on Craigslists in places like Detroit, Stockton, New Orleans, and Houston. I mean, after all, if the American Dream now comes down to just finding a decent rattletrap to exist in, why not exist n good, comfortable weather! With the internet, we won’t be a secret much longer! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Craigslists to posts on.

So it’s all the weather? Then why does Santa Barbara County have significantly fewer homeless than we do?

Last time I was in Santa Barbara, that was all I saw was homeless people. They throw down a big pile of blankets right on the sidewalk, light up some candles, and curl up like it’s their living room.

Just because you saw homeless on the street does not mean SB has more homeless who are still sleeping out in the open.

I lived in SB for many years. The homeless on State Street were very aggressive with their pan-handling at that time. I dealt with it by being as in-their-face and aggressive as they were. They learned to avoid me.

My mother taught me “There are no unwilling doormats.” I refuse to become a doormat for anyone.

You’re afraid of becoming the homeless’ doormat?

According to the report upon which this article is written, the number of chronically homeless (i.e., sleep without shelter at night) for SB and SLO:

Santa Barbara County (including Santa Maria): 913

San Luis Obispo County: 2,357

It would be interesting to know how these figures were compiled. Was the process the same in both counties? Equally thorough? I know both counties fairly well and while I can believe that SLO County has a higher proportion of homeless, I find it harder to believe that the proportion is so much higher that we have a higher overall number despite a population that is at least 25% less.

Also, I suspect that the availability of lower-income housing (especially in Santa Maria and Lompoc) has a big influence on the numbers. Also, the high population of migrant workers who are more inclined to share housing probably contributes too.