CSJ HISTORY - 2003- PRESENT
The Committee for Social Justice is a 501 c3 non-profit organization. It began with one Peter Marin, who was a staunch supporter of the Legal Defense Center. Headed up by Willard Hastings Esq this local non-profit provided legal services for the underserved community members. Peter started CSJ so that he could focus on the unhoused people, a subset of the underserved that was still struggling to get legal services.
A retired head Public Defender of Santa Barbara County, Glen Mowrer headed up our Legal Project. He defended, free of charge, more than 100 people against City and County misdemeanors, infractions, and crime charges, winning or getting dismissed more than 90% of the cases.
From 2003 to 2007 we successfully sued the City to overturn their attempts to outlaw RV parking.
Now again for the last 4 years we have been engaged in an on-going suit to prevent the City from doing this again.
Realizing that people were freezing in the cold winters the CSJ formed a task force with local advocates and the faith based community to open the warming centers which offers people without homes a place to sleep when the temperature drops to 35 and below. One of our board members Lynn Jahnke ran the centers for two of those years. It is ongoing. This year the Good Samaritan Shelter will be running them.
The People's Institute was formed by the CSJ to provide several years of classes in our local shelter. We paid teachers via donations in photography, writing, music, drawing, theater and other subjects. It was very well received by the homeless.
Designed by the CSJ, the Safe ride program found funding to provide rides to the people released after hours to bring them safely home. We became concerned when one of our street friends froze on the long trek to downtown and his camp.
Ongoing, the Safe Parking Program, which offers people living in their vehicles a safe place to park at night, was proposed to the City by the CSJ and arranged for another non-profit to run it.
Ongoing also is our Elf Project. For roughly 15 years we have spent up to 3,000 dollars per month ( all donated ) to help the homeless with various crisis, including, in a few cases, getting people into housing or preventing homelessness by helping those in need of rent or deposit monies. We have retrieved all vehicles in which people live when they were towed by the City and have fixed mechanical failures when applicable.
For over 20 years we have a substantial record of defending homeless rights, advocated for change in City and County policy, and working to prevent attempts to criminalize and punish the homeless.
We also add: we have managed to engage in all these activities via funds supplied by individuals and other funding organizations. Our overhead is at a minimum. We work as volunteers with the exception of our necessary outreach coordinator and pass on donations directly to the homeless in need or spend it entirely on their behalf.