Santa Barbara County AmeriCorps Partnership for Veterans and People Experiencing Homelessness holds first annual graduation reception and makes a major announcement regarding new approaches to homelessness and supporting veterans.

“Home for Good Santa Barbara County,” an action plan with a vision of ending homelessness, was announced on Aug. 31 when the SBC AmeriCorps Partnership held its first Graduation Ceremony at the Hotel Corque in Solvang. Details were presented by Eddie Taylor of the United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County, who said, “The mission of Home for Good Santa Barbara County is to eliminate the negative impacts of homelessness on our homeless neighbors, on our businesses, and on our communities.”

Thirty-five AmeriCorps members were recognized for their commitment to our communities and country and for their successful completion of service as a member of the Santa Barbara County AmeriCorps Partnership.

Supervisor Lavagnino served as Master of Ceremonies. Certificates of service were presented from representatives of Congressman Carbajal, State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Cunningham, Assemblymember Limón and Supervisors Lavagnino and Williams.

Home for Good Santa Barbara County is a community-driven action plan, led by United Way NSBC, facilitated by the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness. AmeriCorps is a national network of programs that engage more than 80,000 Americans each year in intensive community service work with the goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs.” The United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County and a partnership of public and nonprofit agencies established an AmeriCorps program in 2016 to assist veterans and people experiencing homelessness.

AmeriCorps members serve in agencies that help veterans and people experiencing homelessness obtain housing, employment, provide assistance to the formerly homeless and connect them to other mainstream services to increase self-sufficiency. AmeriCorps works with partner agencies to expand services through the use of volunteers. Nationwide, AmeriCorps members’ activities address critical unmet human needs. In return for their service, AmeriCorps members receive a modest cash living allowance and other benefits while serving. Upon successful completion of their service, members receive an Education Award that can be used to pay off existing student loans or to pay continuing education costs. AmeriCorps grants are awarded annually to organizations to operate an AmeriCorps program through a competitive application process.

In Santa Barbara County 1,489 people experiencing homelessness were surveyed in the 2017 Point In Time Count. People experiencing homelessness continue to face high risk of violence and trauma, serious injury and chronic disease and mental illness. In surveys, approximately 15% of survey respondents self-­identified as veterans, with an 8.3 years average length homeless. Many of these veterans reported having a mental health diagnosis (66.4%) and specifically a PTSD diagnosis.

To learn more about the Santa Barbara County AmeriCorps Partnership For Veterans and People Experiencing Homelessness and the Home For Good Santa Barbara County initiative visit: www.liveunitedsbc.org

The Santa Barbara County Partnership For Veterans And People Experiencing Homelessness is a program of the United Way of NSBC and is administered by CaliforniaVolunteers and sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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