An Initiative of United Way
of Santa Cruz County

Smart Solutions to Homelessness-
In This Issue

Homeless Memorial
December 22nd  
Homeless Services Center 
115 Coral Street

Join the Homeless Persons' Health Project,
Homeless Services Center, and River Street Shelter in honoring the memory of all those who have died while homeless this year.

Homeless Garden Project
Store Open for
Holiday Shopping
Extended Holiday Hours
Everyday until Dec. 24
110 Cooper St,
Suite 100G 
Choose from a selection of beautiful gifts made by the garden's trainee farmers, including wreaths, candles, organic strawberry jam, lavender salve, and consignment goods and much more!  

Prop 47 Felony Record Change Resource Fair
January 28th
Temple Beth El
3055 Porter Gulch Rd

This free special event is a one-stop-shop to better understand record change options and get connected to resources such as Housing, Employment, Legal Services, Cal Fresh, Education, and more. Learn more and spread the word!
Ally Spotlight:
Mariah Tanner and Natalie Oliver

This month's Ally Spotlight shines on two new Smart Solutions Allies:
Mariah Tanner and
Natalie Oliver.
In November, Mariah and Natalie, United Way staff and Emerging Leaders Circle (ELC) members, toured the Homeless Services Center and River Street Shelter in Santa Cruz as part of the ELC LEAD event.
Mariah and Natalie were inspired to learn that some of the items most needed by the residents at the shelters are some of the easiest for community members to provide, like sleeping bags, twin sheets, socks, and hygiene products.
Practically overnight, they crafted a plan for how they and their community can help:
"Re-Gift the Gift of Gift-Giving"!
Watch their fun and enthusiastic video explaining what they are doing and why. Thank you Mariah and Natalie for putting your compassion into action and inspiring so many others to share the warmth of the holiday season!

What Are Smart Solutions?


Produce measurable results

Cost effective

Benefit the entire community

Take a step toward ending homelessness

Support the dignity of each individual

Our VISION is a Santa Cruz County in which every community member has some form of safe shelter, and where homelessness is a rare occurrence.

Our MISSION is to build the community will to reduce and ultimately end homelessness in Santa Cruz County through education and collaborative action.
Warming Center Program Underway
As we have all noticed, it is COLD outside these days! Devastatingly, two men without homes froze to death in Monterey County this week. We believe this is not only heartbreaking, but unacceptable.
This is also the core belief of the Warming Center Program here in Santa Cruz County. It is a volunteer-led program working hard to prevent avoidable tragedies like this from happening here by hosting shelters at volunteer sites whenever the temperatures near freezing.
The Warming Center Program complements the 100-bed Winter Shelter funded by the County and Cities and operated by the Homeless Services Center. This compassion-in-action program relies solely on the generous monetary, supply (think: blankets), and time donations given by residents who care, just like you.

Please consider volunteering and/or donating what you can by emailing

Read more about the Warming Center, how it works, and how you can help.
Phil Kramer Honored as
CAP Community Hero

Phil Kramer, far left, was honored as a CAP Community Hero in November
Smart Solutions to Homelessness Leadership Council member Phil Kramer was honored as a CAP Community Hero at United Way of Santa Cruz County's 21st Annual Community Assessment Project Press Conference on Monday, November 23rd.
We are proud of you Phil! 
Phil Kramer launched the 180/2020 initiative in May 2012 with an ambitious goal of housing 180 people experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness. With the support of multiple agencies, nonprofit partners and local government, the goal was met and exceeded, and a new goal was set to ultimately end chronic homelessness in Santa Cruz County by the year 2020. To date, more than 370 people have moved into permanent housing, connected with support services to improve health, well-being and community integration. The "180" initiative developed a nationally recognized volunteer Housing Navigator program, training more than 60 community volunteers to connect people with housing. The initiative led the creation of a new Section 8 voucher, prioritizing the rental subsidy for medically vulnerable people most at risk of dying on the streets, and also formed a weekly collaborative and strategy meeting of service providers called the Housing Work Group.
To learn more about the other seventeen phenomenal community leaders, check out the United Way website.
Smart Solutions Chair Don Lane's
Outgoing Remarks as Santa Cruz Mayor

"As I wrap up the year, I want to share some words of caution about some particular challenges that the community and the city council face.
I've received a lot of email this year. More than a few of those emails touch on the issue of homelessness...[M]any people who write to me request that the City crack down or toughen our laws or curtail services. They're essentially saying: let's make it harder on homeless people and then the problem will be reduced.
I believe this is a mistaken idea.
To explain my perspective, I'd like to invite every 'housed' person [reading] to join in a little 'thought experiment.' It's pretty simple. Follow along with me if you'd like.
'I'm climbing into my bed pulling the blankets over me and looking up at the ceiling. Then I pause for a moment and imagine that, instead of being in my bed at my house, I'm homeless...I imagine I'm about to go to sleep under a tree or next to a dumpster or under a bridge somewhere...'"
Continue the "thought experiment" for yourself on our website.

In the News: Local, Bay Area, and National
Suzan Russaw in Sunnyvale, California, November 2015 Photo credit: Zach Gross
  • Congressional leaders reached an agreement on the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill funding all discretionary federal operations. The bill is expected to be passed and signed into law within the week. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program received a $115 million increase to $2.250 billion for FY 2016! Thank you all for your dedicated advocacy work throughout the year to stave off cuts to homeless assistance and increase national capacity to house people experiencing homelessness!
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