Staff Report

The Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care and 20 local stakeholders launched a 100-Day Challenge to reduce youth homelessness in Santa Barbara County on June 29. 

According to a study by Chaplin Hall, one in 10 young adults age 18-25, and at least one in 30 adolescents age 13-17 experience some form of unaccompanied homelessness over the course of a year in the United States.

The Rapid Results Institute 100-Day Challenge is designed to empower and support front-line teams in pursuit of an ambitious 100-day goal to prevent and end youth homelessness. The compressed timeframe of 100 days, high visibility and support from coaches, peers, and federal leaders all work together to inspire teams to achieve rapid progress and sustainable system change. So far, more than 2,400 youth and young adults have been housed during the course of RRI 100-Day Challenges. 

Santa Barbara County has established a 100-day goal to achieve the following: House 50 youth, assign a navigator to 100 percent of those youth, and have 75 percent of youth accept case management with an individual service and housing retention plan.  

The California Department of Education reports that in the 2018-19 school year, 8,316 students (11.7 percent) met the McKinney Vento definition of a homeless youth in Santa Barbara County school districts. In addition, 16,229 (59.1 percent) youth between the ages of 18-24 are living below the poverty level according to the 2017 American Community Survey data for the Santa Barbara County CoC service area. 

Community leaders across the nation are uniting to continue momentum towards an efficient and sustainable solution to this heartbreaking epidemic. 

“The potential risks and dangers faced by youth experiencing homelessness are complex and require coordinated efforts between the educational sectors, child welfare system, juvenile justice system and service providers,” said Valerie Kissell, executive director of Youth & Family Services YMCA. “We are excited for the attention and focus to be on youth and young adults here in our communities that are tragically underrepresented.”

Stakeholders in addressing homelessness among youth include:

Allan Hancock Community College, Community Action Commission/South Coast Youth Safety Partnership, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Channel Islands YMCA Youth and Family Services, Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Good Samaritan Shelter, Lompoc School District, Community Day School, Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Barbara County Probation, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District, Transitions Mental Health, United Way Home For Good.

For more information about the Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County Continuum of Care, visit