Homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness have long been identified and discussed as issues affecting the local community, along with the stigmas that still surround them. While an individual can be affected by one of these issues, often times a combination, or even all of these factors, contribute to an individual’s condition. Sanctuary Centers seeks to offer an integrated approach to treating these individual issues so their patients can heal themselves as a whole in a safe, supportive environment. Moreover, the recent influence of the pandemic has compounded these problems within our society. The worldwide shutdown has fueled unemployment, leading to housing insecurity, and the quarantine has left those with mental illnesses isolated and not always able to access the same level of support as normal. Fortunately, during these historic times Sanctuary Centers has been able to keep their services continually operating and they are still providing treatment and care for their patients. Demand for their services is up, with Sanctuary Centers making a concerted effort to try and meet the needs of the veteran, homeless, and youth populations they serve.
Sanctuary Centers treats a range of conditions that stem from mental illness and substance abuse, including the frequent co-occurrence of the two. Their services are directed to those suffering from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Asperger’s, as well as condition-based mental illnesses like trauma abuse and PTSD. Many of these conditions affect an individual’s ability to live independently and maintain a healthy lifestyle without a constant care provider. For these patients, Sanctuary Centers provides Inpatient Care at their picturesque Victorian Sanctuary House that was built in 1902 and offers 12 live-in positions for inpatient care. This allows patients who may otherwise need hospitalization to maintain an independent lifestyle but receive the continual support they require. Through individual and group therapies, career development, and independent living skills courses and other services, patients are taught lasting lessons and hone the skills necessary to establish their own autonomy.
For patients who do not require around the clock treatment, or are transferring out of an inpatient program, there is a range of services offered through their Outpatient Care facility. This allows individuals to receive treatment and support while establishing an independent life. Patients receive treatment through a number of services that include psychotherapy, recreational groups, and even art-therapy, which uses the emotions expressed through mediums like dance, poetry, and art, to guide a patient’s thoughts through a healing process that develops and grows the individual. Sanctuary Centers offers flat packages for their Outpatient Care facility in full-, half-, or quarter-day programs that include a range of their services and allows patients to select the level of treatment they’re seeking, or just what their personal schedule allows. Individual sessions for one-on-one, or group and couple/family counseling, are also provided for patients who are not looking to sign up for a flat package.
As mental illness and substance abuse often have associated physical ailments, their Integrated Care Clinic offers a comprehensive solution to providing medical, dental, and other health services to those in need. Incoming patients are assisted by a Behavioral Health Advocate that greets and guides them through the process and services available. Most of the Sanctuary Centers facilities operate off of a private pay model (with insurance billing services available), which is less reliant on the care afforded by the insurance provider, that allows them to maintain the high standard of care they wish to provide. The live-in facilities are offered at a price that is a fraction of similar facilities in the area, and the Integrated Care Clinic offers a sliding scale and accepts most forms of insurance, including Medi-Cal, with an emphasis that patients will not be turned away due to inability to pay.
To offer patients support as they establish a more independent lifestyle, Sanctuary Centers also operates their Supportive Housing program out of two facilities. This low-income housing is available to those who are affected by mental illness and/or substance abuse. The Arlington Apartments is a 28-unit apartment building located downtown and situated right next door to their other facilities. Nearby are theHollister Apartments, an additional eight-unit apartment building. These apartments feature individual case management, in-house support, and a landlord that understands and supports each individual’s needs. Living with other patients creates a communal atmosphere and a lifestyle supported by the other residents.
Demand for these facilities is higher than ever. Homelessness increased an estimated 45% last year with 60% of the homeless population in Santa Barbara suffering from substance abuse problems. Sanctuary Centers is one of only two programs that offer 100% low-income housing and there are currently over 80 people waiting for one of the 36 apartments.
To address the occupancy limitations, they have been working on a new supportive housing facility that will be a culmination of their other services. This 34-unit building will offer low- to no-income apartments with an integrated care facility that offers free medical, dental, and behavioral health services, as well as free psychiatry and treatments for substance abuse. They currently can only meet 10% of the community’s demand and this new facility, once completed, will be able greatly increase their ability to offer services. The building is being self-funded through the organization and donations, and while the pandemic has affected aspects of the building process, Sanctuary Centers is still making progress. Meanwhile, they continue offering their integrated services to those affected by these issues. Regardless of the enduring stigmas around homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse, these issues will continue to affect members of our community. The pandemic is certainly not going to help these issues and the recent discussions around racial injustice have helped bring light to how societal systems have helped to incubate some of these conditions. The answer is not a simple one, but with over 10,000 clients served and low-cost housing provided to over 250 individuals, at an 85% sobriety rate over the last ten years, Sanctuary Centers is helping provide multi-faceted solutions to the complex issues affecting our community.