Community Recognition Reception

Smart Solutions to Homelessness is an initiative of the United Way of Santa Cruz County

One of top honors at our Community Recognition awards event went to a South County collaboration... The South County Homelessness Steering Committee.
The Countywide All-In Strategic Plan to address homelessness is something of a bible for the work of the Smart Solutions to Homelessness organization. Therefore implementing this strategic plan is of the highest importance. One of the priorities of the plan was to have a special focus on South County. As we’ve already noted, the City of Santa Cruz is often seen as the focus of both homelessness challenges and homelessness programs. However, the recent Homeless Census reminds that there are hundreds of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in South County. Something more was required to take this on. Sparked by the All In Plan and with the initial leadership of the County of Santa Cruz Homeless Services Coordinator, all the key players in South County got together and created a new team called the South County Homelessness Steering Committee. It includes approximately 30 leaders from the community with broad representation from City Government, County Government, non-profit service providers, and the faith community.

The primary goals of the group included bringing stakeholders together for coordinating homeless services, developing plans for a day center, providing additional emergency shelter, and ensuring an equitable distribution of funds to South County. Three sub-committees were formed to focus on (1) Day Services; (2) Winter Shelter; and (3) Prevention. In the first year, implementation plans were developed for a day services center, for which a pilot project is planned on the site of the Salvation Army in downtown Watsonville. Low-barrier Emergency Winter Shelter will be provided this winter with new funding from the City and County, and County CORE funding is providing for 15 nights of Warming Center shelter in Watsonville. Funds were secured via the County CORE program, in the amount of $570,000 over 3 years, for the new ͞South County Collaborative͟ which provides for assessments, case management, rental assistance, legal assistance and shelter days to improve housing stability and educational outcomes for homeless families and those families who are at-risk of homelessness and reside in South County. The Committee’s work will continue with a focus on seeking new funding to support the implementation plans, strengthening the role of the South County Collaborative, and developing strategies for outreach and engagement with the broader community.
To put it simply, this is great work... and represents a big gain...which why we are recognizing the South County Homelessness Steering Committee the “Initiative of the Year Award.”
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