Beginning this month, innovative solutions to homelessness in Santa Cruz County might be found at local libraries.

Neighbors for Neighbors is a new program offered by Santa Cruz Public Libraries and local nonprofit Housing Matters that organizers say could give residents a chance to learn about local issues, identify and propose homelessness solutions and foster compassion to homelessness at the neighborhood level.

The program will consist of a series of in-person meetups at select library branches where Housing Matters will provide informational overviews and guest speakers about local homelessness.

Housing Matters’ chief impact officer Mer Stafford said that education around the issue of homelessness is “foundational” to those who are interested in fostering change at the “neighborhood level.”

“It is our goal with Neighbors for Neighbors to help people who want to take an active role in their neighborhood. By providing a framework for discussion and opportunities for engaging in meaningful activities in their own neighborhoods,” Stafford said.

Garfield Park and Capitola will serve as the pilot branches for the meetup series in November. Additional branches are scheduled to begin hosting meetups in early 2023 but have not been announced yet.

Organizers say that meetup groups will work together to brainstorm activities that can help or reduce or resolve homelessness in their neighborhoods through facilitated neighborhood-focused discussions.

Housing Matters said some informational discussions may include housing stability, barriers to supportive housing, renters’ rights, local initiatives and the Housing First model, a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing housing to unhoused persons.

Groups may also participate in volunteer projects like neighborhood food pantries or voter canvassing.

The Garfield Park meetup will be Nov. 10 from 4-5 p.m. The Capitola meetup will be on Nov. 22 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. People can register for both events on the Santa Cruz Public Libraries website.