180/2020. This is the name given to a multi-agency community initiative in Santa Cruz County. It’s goal is to make a 180 degree change to end chronic homelessness by the year 2020. It hopes to accomplish this task by moving men, women, and families into permanent housing and providing the support services they need to stay housed.
One of the agencies involved in this initiative is the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz. “We envision Santa Cruz County to be a place where everyone has permanent housing.” In order to achieve this goal, Homeless Services Center practices proven solutions that provide pathways to individuals, such as their Daytime Essential Services Center. Services provided include meals, showers, mail service, computer access, clothing, and work-readiness workshops. This center was designed to allow persons to continue performing the necessary steps to regain housing without being encumbered by unnecessary hardships such as hunger, lack of access to communication methods, or lack of access to basic hygiene services and clean clothing.
Teresa Scott heads the kitchen that prepares the meals for the center. She comes into the Food Bank every week to pick up the items she needs to prepare her meals. The center serves breakfast and dinner daily, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the items that Teresa picks up from the food bank and other community donations, they are able to serve 300-400 meals a day. “It is important for us to be able to provide the basic necessities that our clients need. We do not want them to have to worry about these things, so that they can focus on other things to help them get back into a better situation.”
The Homeless Service Center continues to bring about positive change and opportunities for the people in Santa Cruz County. Throughout the years, the organization has responded to community needs for case management, transitional housing, and emergency housing. It continues to expand and hopes to provide more services such as a new computer center, a community meeting room, and a 1-chair dental operative room.