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Warming Centers in SB County ready to open this week

Good Samaritan's Freedom Warming Centers provide shelter on cold nights. They activate when temperatures drop below 35 degrees or rain is forecasted.
Good Samaritan Shelter
Good Samaritan's Freedom Warming Centers provide shelter on cold nights. They activate when temperatures drop below 35 degrees or rain is forecasted.

Warming Centers are set to open November 15th throughout Santa Barbara County. The pop-up sites provide emergency shelter for unhoused people during cold and rainy weather.

Good Samaritan Shelter is a non-profit organization that provides services for individuals, families, and Veterans experiencing homelessness in Santa Barbara County. Executive Director Sylvia Barnard said they will once again activate warming centers for the winter.

“There is quite a number of individuals that are out in the community living on the streets and in encampments. We have two outreach teams that are reaching out to them across the county,” she said.

The National Weather Service forecasts rain this week and warming centers are set to open November 15th. They will activate whenever temperatures drop below 35 degrees or rain is expected. The sites will open from 6pm to 6am to provide a hot meal and overnight stay.

The County of Santa Barbara 2023 Point-in-Time Count showed 1,887 people living in shelters, vehicles, or outdoors. Barnard said she thinks that number is still pretty accurate. The Good Samaritan shelters that operate year-round are full.

“Our DignityMoves in Santa Barbara, our Hedges House of Hope in Isla Vista, our Bridge House in Lompoc, and our Santa Maria emergency shelter are all at full capacity, currently,” she said.

The county has additional shelters under construction, and those locations will add a couple hundred more beds. But Barnard said those properties won’t be ready until January, so they are preparing as best they can.

“The warming shelter coordinator is working with all of the locations to make sure that we have spots available, and we are staffed up,” she said.

Barnard said the community can help by providing meals and warm clothing for the winter.

For more information contact GoodSamaritanShelter.org

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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