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Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County are among the recipients of the first round of grants from the California Emergency Solutions and Housing program to address homelessness, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

The HCD said a total of $914,745 was awarded to the city and county, which jointly serve as the continuum of care for the area.

Continuums of care are regional or local planning bodies that coordinate housing and services funds for homeless families and individuals, an HCD spokesman explained.

The county’s Housing and Community Development Division applied for the grant.

California Emergency Solutions and Housing is a state program that provides funds for a variety of activities to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Authorized by Senate Bill 850 in 2018, the program is administered by HCD using money from the Building Homes and Jobs Act Trust Fund and all remaining California Emergency Solutions Grant funds.

A total of $53.3 million was granted to 43 continuums of care representing every county in the state, with some continuums consisting of several cooperating counties.

San Luis Obispo County continuum of care was granted $727,047, while the Ventura County continuum of care consisting of Oxnard, San Buenaventura and Ventura County received $701,401.

The HCD spokesman said nearly 130,000 Californians are sleeping in parks, under bridges or in their cars.

So the state has responded with an infusion of funds to help cities and counties address the needs of those who do not have a permanent and safe place to call home, the spokesman said.

Statewide, the funds can be used for rental assistance, housing relocation, stabilization services, outreach services and other programs.

“We have a long way to go to address the housing needs of Californians who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness,” said Ben Metcalf, HCD director. “We have made and will continue to make authorized resources available for that purpose, and we are excited to be taking this step toward ending homelessness in California.”

The second and final round of California Emergency Solutions and Housing grants are expected this spring.

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This report was compiled by Associate Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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