Ending the Crisis of Our Time
When your mission is to end homelessness in California, watching the number of unsheltered people continue to climb across the state can be daunting.
In Santa Barbara alone, nearly 2,000 people live without shelter, as evidenced by the number of encampments cropping up along railroad paths, roadsides, and waterfronts throughout the county. When she took over as CEO of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) at the beginning of 2022, Jennifer Hark Dietz was conscious that to truly end homelessness, you also have to work to prevent it.
“At PATH, I feel we are capable of doing both,” Dietz says. “We can help an individual who is on the street find shelter and at the same time, we can focus on changing the system to prevent homelessness from happening at all.”
In 2021, PATH co-sponsored a state bill that would have provided funding for individuals who were incarcerated for minor offenses to get connected to a housing resource upon their release. The legislation was inspired by data from PATH’s advocacy arm. Their data showed that recidivism decreases significantly when a release from prison is linked to a housing resource and case manager. The bill didn’t pass, but PATH will not give up on pushing it again.
“I’m most proud of PATH using our data to really inform our advocacy,” Dietz says. “That is what will change the system.”
Alongside its tireless policy advocacy, PATH continues to do what it does best: help people find permanent homes and support them with medical and mental healthcare and employment training support to ensure they remain stable.
Across California, PATH serves more than 25,000 vulnerable individuals each year. In Santa Barbara, PATH serves half of the county’s homeless population, and they permanently housed 65 people in the last year. Attracting resources to Santa Barbara’s homelessness crisis is a top priority for the organization.
“In Santa Barbara, we recognize that the chronicity of the individuals we serve is very high, so the needs of our participants are also very high,” Dietz says.
Associate Director of Philanthropy & Community Affairs: John “JB” Bowlin
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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PATH relies on the generosity of food donations and volunteer kitchen support to make three nourishing meals each day for residents. Being well nourished and cared for can be the first step on a person’s journey to healing and home.
Help PATH Do What It Does Best
Responding to Santa Barbara’s homeless crisis requires a robust fundraising operation. For 2022 alone, the overall goal is to raise $700,000.
A portion of this comes from PATH’s annual event in June, A Toast to Home, in partnership with Sunstone Winery. PATH’s annual holiday campaign, which launched in November, also aims to raise much-needed funding.
Individual donations will help PATH strengthen its services like its food rescue program and invest in improving its interim housing facility in Santa Barbara, which provides shelter and case management for up to 100 people. PATH recently completed the first phase of a three-part renovation to the facility. A second phase will overhaul the bathrooms to ensure the site becomes, as CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz puts it, “a trauma-informed space.”
“By donating, you are part of the solution to ending the crisis of our time,” Dietz says. “By giving, you are helping someone make it home.”