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Unitarian Society Of Santa Barbara

Saving lives and reducing the suffering of our neighbors without homes

www.ussb.org/fwc Tax ID 95-1890767

Santa Barbara; Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Trinity Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church Carpinteria; Carpinteria Community Church Lompoc; Peace Lutheran Church Isla Vista; University Methodist Church Santa Maria; Salvation Army

Freedom Warming Centers provide overnight accommodations for homeless and chronically homeless individuals. We are a shorter-term shelter operating when temperatures or a combination of weather conditions can be life-threatening for individuals living on the streets, many living with chronic health conditions.


In 2009, moved by the tragic death of a Santa Barbara homeless man known as ‘Freedom,’ a group of homeless advocates, the faith community, and others came together and began working on solutions to reduce or eliminate the chances of anyone dying from winter conditions in Santa Barbara County. To that end they prepared and implemented a plan that resulted in winter warming centers throughout Santa Barbara county. To honor the gentleman whom friends called Freedom, this group of concerned individuals gave the winter shelter program the name Freedom Warming Centers.

In 2010, recognizing the need for a fiscal agent, the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara stepped forward and became the administrative agent for the Freedom Warming Centers.

What We Do

Freedom Warming Centers provide overnight refuge to homeless and chronically homeless individuals who would otherwise seek shelter in doorways, alleys, or other uninhabitable places during nights of inclement weather conditions.

Along with a safe warm place to rest, Freedom Warming Center guests receive a hot meal, personal toiletry items, sack lunch, and if necessary a new jacket or socks.

We activate (open) between November 15 and March 31, when weather conditions can pose a danger to those forced to live out of doors. Hours of operation are 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Guests receive resources and referrals for drug treatment centers, health/wellness clinics, mental health services, housing options, and other homeless-related services.

There are no restrictions or barriers for accessing the Freedom Warming Centers; the only requirement is people must remain respectful of each other and the warming center. Pets are welcome.

Did You Know?

We are the only warming centers serving Santa Barbara County. We operate five locations: Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.

Our Impact

There is a consensus among public health officials throughout the state and the country: warming centers play a key role in any regional homeless service winter plan.

Individuals who access winter warming centers reduce their risk of serious illness, have fewer emergency room visits, and are less likely to be housed in jails. This is a cost savings to both taxpayers and businesses/business owners.

When activated, Freedom Warming Centers can provide approximately 200 individuals, per night, a warm place to sleep out of the winter weather elements. The average age is 48 years old, and 82% of are men.

Our Collaborative Partners

When Santa Barbara County is facing cold and/or rainy winter weather, the following churches and organizations do their part by opening their doors allowing the Freedom Warming Centers to come in, set up, and fully manage and operate the overnight center.