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Santa Barbara County reports higher numbers in latest PIT Count

Downtown Santa Barbara County.
Downtown Santa Barbara County.

New results from Santa Barbara County's Point-in-Time Count show an increase in homelessness since last year. The findings were discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

For this year’s PIT Count, 450 volunteers tallied and surveyed people who are homeless across the county. They found the number went up by 12% from 2023.

Joseph Dzvonik, the county director of housing and community development, noted that since PIT data is a one-night snapshot, it may not reliably show long-term trends.

However, he believes there are more people experiencing homelessness in the area, mainly due to inflation and the rising cost of living.

A recent report by the City of Santa Barbara found the average cost of a one-bedroom rental along the County's southern coast has risen by nearly $1000 since 2020.

“The rental costs and not having enough affordable housing is ultimately the answer, and it just keeps increasing,” Dzvonik said.

The PIT data will shape funding and planning for regional homeless programs.

“It gives us information that is extremely useful in developing and implementing strategies,” Dzvonik said.

For example, this year's count revealed an increase in people living in their vehicles. Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced an $8 million grant to help the County transition these people from vehicles to housing.

According to Dzvonik, the collected data will be crucial for the success of this plan.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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