In case you haven’t heard, homelessness is booming in California.

Some 130,000 Californians are homeless—which is nearly a quarter of the national total. And that rate of homelessness is among the highest in the country.

Homelessness jumped 14 percent from 2016 to 2017 in California and city leaders took note. From 2017 to 2018, most of California’s major urban areas saw a slight decrease in homelessness—about 1 percent. But Santa Cruz saw an increase.

This Surf City, boardwalk town in Central California now has the second highest per capita rate of homelessness in California.

In this beach community of some 60,000 people, roughly 2,200 are homeless in Santa Cruz. And each night, The Salvation Army shelters nearly 10 percent of them.

Captain Harold Laubach directs The Salvation Army’s efforts in Santa Cruz—which includes the corps, the church, four winter shelters, one being an encampment space that provides safe shelter outdoors, and a homeless navigation center.

In today’s show, Captain Laubach takes us inside a homeless shelter to explain how it operates and how The Salvation Army aims to meet individual needs inside. He details how The Salvation Army partners with its neighbors to mitigate concerns and gain support.

Captain Laubach explores the complex and complicated issue of homelessness—and the sometimes surprising reality of those who face it. He shares what he believes is the way out of homelessness and the role faith plays in it all.

Show highlights include:

  • Santa Cruz: Surfers, tourists, environmentalists, minimum wage and legalized marijuana make a big, explosive mix for homelessness.
  • Affects Everything: Increased crime rate, limited housing, high cost of living
  • The Salvation Army started a winter shelter program with city and county support, and has expanded to four shelters and partnerships with 23 agencies.
  • Problem: Not in my backyard (NIMBY), neighbors got upset
  • Solution: Transport people to shelter by bus; hire security to deter bad behavior
  • Everyday operation includes intake; sex offender, weapons, and bags check; meals; showers and hygiene care; bed mat  
  • Picture of Homelessness: Addiction, mental health, handicapped or something simple will kick you into homelessness within 30 days in California.
  • Homelessness is a complex and complicated issue; can’t pigeonhole people
  • Way out of homelessness: Open day center navigation services to handle all homeless needs and issues in same building to take away various problems.
  • Everyone is Welcome: How faith and integration of church impacts life and work in homeless community.
  • What can you do? Where are your services needed? Go volunteer and involve your local government, congregation and others to make things happen.

do gooders podcast - navigating a way out of homelessness

Good words from Captain Harold Laubach in this show:

“On a more local scale, we’ve tried to become part of the answer to our homeless issues.”

“There’s a large homeless encampment of tents right next to the highway. So large that every single person that comes into town sees it.”

“We are now transitioning people either into housing or permanent employment on a weekly basis.”

“I believe everything is grounded in truth, but we, as human beings, tend to stretch that to fit whatever we want to believe.”

Additional resources:

Download this episode wherever you get your podcasts. Connect with Captain Harold Laubach via The Salvation Army in Santa Barbara, California.

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