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Infrastructure, Housing and Development

Another motel on the Central Coast will become a shelter for unhoused people through Project Homekey

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Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County
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The Super 8 Motel in Goleta will become a Project Homekey site.

Preliminary results from Santa Barbara County’s last Point-in-Time Count showed a 3.4 percent increase of people in the county experiencing homelessness since 2020.

Now, another motel on the Central Coast will become a shelter for unhoused people using Project Homekey funds. This time, the site will be in Goleta.

Project Homekey uses state funds to turn motels, apartments and other buildings into housing for people experiencing homelessness.

After Governor Gavin Newsom announced new funding last week, the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County is now poised to use almost $19 million in these funds to turn a Super 8 Motel in Goleta into a shelter for unhoused people.

It’s not the first in the area, though. In 2019, the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) in San Luis Obispo County secured funding to turn a Motel 6 in Paso Robles into a shelter.

“Our services in Paso Robles alone show that that track record of Homekey projects really can be successful,” said ECHO's CEO, Wendy Lewis.

“In our first year, we were able to serve 600 unduplicated men, women and children," Lewis said. "We were able to get around 50 people back into housing, including families and children.”

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Angel Russell
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ECHO's renovated shelter in Atascadero.

Lewis said having unhoused people in a shelter or long-term housing like ECHO’s facilities in Paso Robles and Atascadero allows them to receive other resources and assistance, too.

“Many of the folks we serve with employment, and [we] have built out really well-rounded resources, from financial resources to parenting classes to case management, which is the key to getting people back into housing," Lewis said.

As for Goleta’s project, Lewis said it has the potential to help address the area’s increase in homelessness.

“So Santa Barbara County, I think it’s an incredible resource they’re able to bring to that community,” she said.

But despite what Lewis called Project Homekey’s success, she shares the concerns of many of the program’s observers: that it doesn’t include sustained funding to address homelessness further into the future.

“Our Homekey funding will be ending in the next few months, and we as an organization have to sustain funding to secure the program," Lewis said. "So that’s probably where I see a flaw that needs to be looked at — they’re building new, when we’re still trying to create sustainability at some of the first ones.”

ECHO’s website is echoshelter.org, while more information on the Goleta project is at hasbarco.org.

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