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100-day challenge on encampments comes to an end in Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) -- Governor Newsom's 100-Day Challenge on Encampments was completed by four California communities, including Santa Cruz County.

"During the period of the 100-day challenge there were 33 folks who went from being out in public places unsheltered into permanent housing, and then we also helped 54 other people get connected to temporary shelter or long term supports," said Robert Ratner, Director of Housing for Health for Santa Cruz County.

Homeless people in the area have dealt with challenges related to Covid 19, limited resources and finding affordable housing.

"It was really bringing together different programs to collaborate more. One of our key organizational entities in the county is the Homeless Persons Health Project," said Ratner. "They bring health services out to people who are unhoused."

One direct change that came from the challenge was to provide outreach workers with direct links to available shelter beds.

This made it easier to help some homeless people get out of unsafe situations.

"The biggest impact was kind of bringing people together on a regular basis to work in new ways," said Ratner.

Homeless people had less pressure to navigate helpful resources on their own and feel more coordinated within the community.

The challenge was spread out through all areas of Santa Cruz County.

Although participants came in during different stages, they were all still given access to the same resources.

Some workers said that others in the community should remember that homeless people are still people.

“All the people who are impacted by the program, the staff really got to know them on a personal level and their stories," said Ratner. "It's easy for us to forget that we're talking about real people who have stories and families and aspirations.”

The Governor's 100-Day Challenge on Encampments was implemented by CAL ICH in partnership with the non-profit RE!INSTITUTE.

The next part to come to the conclusion of the challenge is the sustainment phase, where Santa Cruz County locks in its helpful changes and makes sure to continue to serve the homeless community.

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Joronica Vinluan

Reporter/ Weekend Producer for KION News Channel 5/46

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