If there was ever any doubt that there is a long way to go before the Santa Clarita Valley has a homeless shelter offering full services and amenities, a tour of the shelter will dispel that doubt.
You’re invited today to take that tour and see for yourself.
The Signal Editorial Board did so last week. We saw the dormitories, some of their floors torn up to be re-floored before the shelter opens Monday, privacy panels cheerfully decorated with children’s paintings stacked to the side to serve as flimsy walls for sleeping clients.
Full occupancy is expected.
We saw strips of asphalt put down on bare ground, completely lacking in landscape, with outdoor tables and chairs scattered about to serve as the yard. Close by the narrow seating area are outhouses, along with a trailer, donated by Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, where clients can shower.
Water has to be trucked in. Sewage has to be trucked out. Streetlights and a paved road are absent, as are permanent structures. Most of the land is steep and would require extensive grading before construction. It’s located in an old industrial area of Saugus; trains waiting on sidings can block access for long periods.
This is the land that Santa Clarita Valley residents are willing to set aside for the valley’s homeless.
Yet during our tour with personnel from the Bridge to Home nonprofit, we saw no discouragement on faces. What we saw was hope, along with an undercurrent of muted excitement as the winter shelter sets to re-open Monday for the 2017-18 year — hopefully its last year as a seasonal-only facility.
The gap between the current expectations from our local shelter and our hopes for it is wide. We need our city, which officially turned over ownership of the property to Bridge to Home in September, to help arrange utilities for the site. But that’s just an initial step.
Once an architectural plan is approved, funding from Measure H — approved last spring by county voters for homeless relief — becomes more feasible. Supervisor Kathryn Barger has been especially kind with donations, but the more progress our shelter can show the more likely Measure H funds will become available — and the more work will be needed to show even more progress.
Landscaping, grading, construction, facilities upgrades — the SCV business community can offer support in many ways. And so can the volunteers for whom Santa Clarita is famous.
Churches, synagogues and other organizations have already stepped up to the plate and fed Bridge to Home clients nightly with meals cooked off site. Landscape Development Inc. has provided its yearly van to usher clients to appointments around town.
The Signal has teamed with Bridge to Home and invited residents to provide personal necessities for the homeless, which will be collected today during an open house at the shelter from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other collection points through Saturday are the Castaic UPS store and the Santa Clarita Canyon Country Library.
We invite you to pick up a few items off the list of lift-top canned food, travel-size deodorant and wipes, socks and boxers. Swing by the shelter at 23031 Drayton Street in Saugus during specified hours to deliver your purchases and take a tour.
We all need to pitch in and help — if only a little bit.