City and county donate combined $700,000 to build homes for veterans

Members of the Santa Clarita City Council present a check for $350,000 to Homes for Families during a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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The two giant checks presented to Homes 4 Families Thursday afternoon will fund 24 new homes for veterans in Santa Clarita.

In the last installment of their 78-home project, the final third of these homes will be built using money given by Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County, who donated $350,000 each.

“The veterans deserve the best of the best because they have given the best of the best,” Homes 4 Families CEO and President Donna Deutchman said. “As they move into the middle class, they will help move Santa Clarita forward.”

Of the 24 homes located on Center Point Parkway, six will be completed by the end of the year and the rest will be finished in 2018.

Navy veteran Gus Avila will be one of the 24 veterans moving into the community with his family.

“It was my honor to serve my country with honor, courage and commitment,” Avila said.

After serving, Avila said he wanted to pursue the American Dream, which in part includes owning his own home.

Because of economic barriers, it was difficult for Avila and veterans like him to be able to afford a home, so he was grateful to receive one from the organization.

“To make it happen brings us closer to the community,” he said.

The day before the event, Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys merged with Homes 4 Families, its sister organization, and took on its name.

This allows the group to work exclusively with veterans and not be restricted by geographic boundaries.

“We are uniquely equipped to do this across the state of California,” Board Chairman Hunt Braly said.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger prepares to present a $350,000 check to Homes for Families on behalf of the county during a ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“When I talk about the need, I cringe when I say, ‘homeless veterans,’” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said, claiming the two words should never be together. “The least we can do is give back.”

It is important for those with the resources to equip nonprofit organizations with the funds they need, according to the supervisor.

“We elected officials support you, but you do all the heavy lifting,” Barger said.

It is in Santa Clarita’s DNA to honor veterans and celebrate families, Councilwoman Laurene Weste said.

“When veterans return home, they need to be surrounded by love and support and by people who understand what they have been through,” she said.

Homes 4 Families uses an “enriched neighborhood model,” which provides both permanent housing and comprehensive services, including financial education, therapeutic workshops, trauma programs and veteran support.

“It is incredibly important to honor their service with these services,” Senator Scott Wilk said.

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