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October 27, 2020
RE: SUPPORT for Agenda Item 13 – Fiscal Year 2022 Human Services And Community Development Block Grant Funding Process, Priorities, And Criteria
Dear Mayor and City Council Members,
We would like to issue our support for Item 13 and request that careful thought be given to change some resources and approaches to the homelessness situation given COVID-19. The growing concern around the rise of homeless encampments, transient interaction with tourism, vandalism, theft and unsafe conditions due to the changes in our community and economy during the pandemic and subsequent economic meltdown.
We recommend a focus on homeless housing, mental health, and alcohol/drug addiction programs. The business community is desperate for support in not just dealing with this problem but supporting programs that actually stop the problem. Everything has changed. We ask that new approaches and programs be implemented.
Health and safety is everyone’s top priority. The current situation stands to threaten the viability of our tourism industry, our business recovery efforts, and therefore Santa Barbara’s economy. It is critical we assist the business community in preserving jobs in our community and assisting the economic recovery that our members are working toward.
Having homelessness encampments in highly visible corridors, and the constant threat of safety issues for existing businesses, prevents us from achieving that.
We know there are many challenges facing the City currently. The Chamber and the business community are here to be your partners and supporters. We understand this is a crisis and are ready to help make a change. Please consider any efforts to develop short- and long-term solutions to reduce the unfortunate homelessness crisis.