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Homelessness

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Officials at the Good Samaritan Shelter are worried about sustaining service to the county's homeless population after racking up a $60,000 bill from expanding shelter services and taking over operation of the Santa Maria High School emergency shelter, all while quickly running through supplies of personal protective equipment. 

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As the state Legislature reconvenes for the second half of the biennial session, we will see a flurry of activity as Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers his second State of the State address and proposes a 2020-21 budget, based on an assumption that the state’s record-long economic expansion will continue for at least another year.

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Shawn Pleasants has the kind of resume that would attract the attention of any job recruiter: high school valedictorian, economics major from Yale University, Wall Street banking jobs, small business entrepreneur. But a few wrong turns in life 10 years ago left him homeless, and today he's living underneath a tarp in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.

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Several Lompoc residents and representatives of businesses and other agencies have reported a growing problem regarding people experiencing homelessness loitering or vandalizing private properties, including accusations of some people using yards, alleys and entryways as public restrooms. That has coincided with a citywide uptick this year in violent crimes, evidenced by five homicides and more than 30 reported shootings in the first seven months of 2019. While those issues are raising safety concerns for many in and around the Lompoc Valley, the city’s new police chief said his department was doing its best, but that a lack of funding and being short-staffed have severely limited what police can do.

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The first phase of the Community Action Plan to Address Homelessness in Santa Barbara County was accepted on a 5-0 vote but with a mixture of optimism and pessimism Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors. Dinah Lockhart, deputy director of the Community Services Department, told supervisors the first phase of the plan had to be developed and accepted by the board for the county to be eligible for future state grants to help the homeless.

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