Homeless committee emphasizes need to get local nonprofits funding

Carolyn Odien, left, and Sheila Wyeth prepare clothes that are available for the homeless to pick up at Bridge to Home's winter shelter on Drayton Street in Santa Clarita on Christmas Eve. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Santa Clarita’s ad hoc committee on homelessness met for the second time Monday to discuss the city’s next steps for aiding its homeless population.

The group met for the first time on April 13, with representatives of local homelessness nonprofit organizations and sheriff’s deputies, to establish goals and needs using Measure H funding.

This is the first time the committee has formally met since Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s (LAHSA) homeless count was released on May 31.

Mayor Cameron Smyth, one half of the committee alongside Councilwoman Marsha McLean, said being strategic in efforts to get county funding is a priority.

“If there are people who can be creative, I think we’re going to be able to access those dollars,” Mayor Smyth said. “Our task is to provide information for anyone who wants it.”

Kelly Bruno Nelson, President and CEO of the National Health Foundation, was invited by Mayor Smyth to share insight about working with LAHSA to get funding.

To get this funding as her foundation has, an organization must be vetted by LAHSA, she said.

Santa Clarita is in a good position to receive funds because the homeless population is relatively small compared to Los Angeles’, Nelson said.

“It makes it more exciting to solve because it’s smaller than Los Angeles,” Kelly Bruno Nelson said. “Adding services here in Santa Clarita, you’ll see a difference very quickly.”

The most difficult problem the county is facing is its lack of capacity, according to Nelson. It will be important to get service providers who can meet the capacity needs in order accept the funding.

“They have a huge capacity issue,” she said. “Regardless of what (the county is) saying, they cannot spend all the money they have. There are dollars to be had.”

Prior to the passage of Measure H, not all of the county’s money for homelessness was spent because there were not enough organizations who had the capacity to accept it, City Manager Ken Striplin cited.

“Our organizations have to try to get some funding that they richly deserve,” Councilwoman McLean said.

Also, adding more transitional bridge housing will make a significant difference for the homeless in the city, Nelson said.

Nelson, whose foundation works closely with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, said the hospital is looking to put money toward helping the valley’s homeless people.

The ad hoc committee meets again in July and plans to hold a workshop with nonprofit organizations and county representatives in August.

LAHSA’s homeless count for Santa Clarita will be released in July.

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