A PATH Home
It’s the middle of August in 2021 and the number of people experiencing homelessness across Santa Barbara County has reached 2,195. Only two years earlier, there were nearly 400 fewer people without shelter.
And yet Tessa Madden Storms, PATH Santa Barbara’s regional director, remains as optimistic as ever. If Madden Storms has learned anything in her 10 years with the California-wide nonprofit, it’s that getting discouraged won’t help PATH reach its goal to end homelessness in the state.
“You have to keep people moving and motivated towards the good that they can do,” she says. “What we all see on a regular basis with homelessness is so bleak. You have to look forward to those successes.”
And plenty of successes does PATH have. PATH, which stands for People Assisting The Homeless, has housed nearly 12,000 people since 2013, and served nearly 20 percent of the state’s homeless population. An incredible feat.
While PATH operates in 150 cities, its hallmark, Madden Storms says, is its individualized approach. Moving people off the streets is merely a starting point on a long path to finding them permanent homes.
“We work really hard to understand where each person we serve is coming from, what caused the episode of homelessness they’re experiencing, what resources are available to them, and strategically connect each individual with the services they need,” she says.
PATH combines rapid re-housing, housing navigation, interim housing, and employment programs. Through PATH Ventures, the organization’s housing development arm, the nonprofit has built 1,500 affordable housing units across California that ensure people have immediate access to high-quality, affordable, and stable homes. This provides a crucial safety net especially as eviction moratoriums start getting lifted across the state.
In Santa Barbara, PATH launched the county’s first scattered-site permanent supportive housing program to place 25 of the community’s highest-need individuals in permanent apartments. This program provides long-term financial support and wrap-around case management services to promote stability. It’s part of a multifaceted approach centered on meeting each member of the vastly diverse homeless community where they are.
“The journey is not as linear as it may seem,” Madden Storms says. “What sets PATH apart is we understand that.”
PATH Santa Barbara Regional Director: Elizabeth (Liz) Adams
Our mission is to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities. PATH envisions a world where every person has a home. Our values include creative collaborations, strategic leadership, empowerment for all, and passionate commitment.
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This is what enjoying your own home looks like! Now that Lexy has her very own apartment, she has been enjoying hobbies like crocheting and painting. “Looking back, I know I’m a strong woman after living on the riverbed and facing many challenges. Connecting with PATH and moving into this apartment has restored my sense of hope for my family and me, for that I am thankful.
Creating a PATH to Permanent Housing
The homeless crisis in Santa Barbara County is chronic and for 2024, PATH’s overall fundraising goal is $500,000 – $650,000. PATH Santa Barbara’s Outreach Program promises an even more proactive street-level mission. Being able to add a van would provide PATH’s outreach worker much-needed mobility in the field and adds another $150,000 to the PATH needs list.
“What we’re advocating for is a bit more flexibility so that we can meet people where they are,” says Jennifer Hark Dietz, PATH CEO.
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