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Ending homelessness a tough but well-paying job 

Ending homelessness in SLO County will be neither easy nor cheap. In fact, it will cost $100,000 just to hire someone whose job will entail finding funding.

It’s part of the county’s so-called 10-year plan to end homelessness, although those writing the plan pitch it as more a step in the right direction than a decade-long cure-all to homelessness. Federal requirements actually mandate the plan title to include reference to ending homelessness in 10 years. It may not end homelessness, but having the plan helps qualify local homeless-services providers for more federal funding.

Every local government body has voted to support the plan, which provides a rough framework of ideas to curb homelessness throughout the county.

But it’s not cheap. So far this year the county has spent $20,000 from the general fund and grants, 
according to a county report. More costs are looming.

For now the idea is to form a homeless services advisory body. The people on that body will be volunteers, but they’re asking for a paid staffer.

So what’s the expected cost? Early estimates put it at $100,000 for salary and overhead costs to make materials and schedule meetings.

Amy Gillman, who is part of the group now trying to implement the plan, said the staffer will basically be the coordinator for the advisory body. Part of the job will involve grant writing and other fundraising, she said, but the exact job duties are still unclear.

Santa Barbara County hired a similar person at $5,000 per month for six months. During that initial period the staffer raised enough funds to hire two other people with an annual budget of $210,000.

SLO County supervisors unanimously, but tentatively, agreed to hold a slot in this year’s budget for the position. Supervisors Katcho Achadjian, Adam Hill, and Frank Mecham were leery of committing county funds, especially with an estimated $29.2 million deficit in next year’s budget.

The supervisors all agreed that they wanted 10-year-plan representatives to lobby cities and the private sector to help fund the position.

Hill noted, however, that it would be hard to market a position where part of the job description may be raising funds to maintain that position.

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