SCV stakeholders speak on homelessness at Newhall Library

The Old Town Newhall library. Dan Watson/The Signal
The Old Town Newhall library. Dan Watson/The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley service providers and city officials met Thursday at the Old Town Newhall Library morning to speak on how to combat the issue of homelessness.

Discussions centered on how to use a $50,000 grant, given by the county and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, to prevent homelessness, provide subsidized housing and increase income in the city. The meeting will continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The city had hired two consultants from survey and data analysis firm Analytic Insights to help decide the best strategies for attaining and spending funds to combat homelessness.  

Standing at the front of the room, consultants Amy Flowers and Leslie Ogilvie led a discussion with representatives from the City Manager’s Office, Bridge to Home, Family Promise, the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Salvation Army, Sheriff’s Station, Saugus Union School District, Hart School District, the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders.

Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, a member of the city’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Homelessness Issues, was present for the discussion.

“The importance of these meetings is to implement a strategy to address homelessness, drug abuse issues and mental health in our community,” she said. “This is an invaluable tool, and discussion has been very fruitful.”

Councilman Cameron Smyth, who formed the ad-hoc committee in June 2017, stayed for introductions, and then left. The consultants’ end plan will come to the council for approval at a later date, Smyth said, adding he didn’t want to stay to influence the discussion.

Mayor Laurene Weste and City Council members Bill Miranda and Bob Kellar were not present. Weste was not aware of the meeting, she said.

The consultants wrote the ideas on papers after fielding written suggestions from the stakeholders. Increasing access through outreach and collaboration between programs was a priority, representatives from Bridge to Home and Family Promise said. Safe housing with case management was also an important aspect of interest.

Drug abuse prevention and cessation services were also discussed regarding working with high schools and colleges. Local social workers also asked to identify families at risk and more collaborative meetings.

The possibility of a community resource liaison on the city level was broached for all of the areas of concern.

The community also tackled issues of increasing income and linking homeless individuals with Medi-cal or veterans benefits, and establishing a subsidized employment program.

Pat Thayer, a board member of the SCV pantry, observed the room had both organizations concerned with homelessness prevention and alleviation of the predicaments of those currently homeless.

Laurie Ender, president of the board of directors for Family Promise, said the organizations present had the “biggest hearts, but the smallest bank accounts.”

“The private sector needs to step up,” she said, during a discussion on providing subsidized housing to residents with severe chronic or mental health conditions.

The meeting comes on the heels of Los Angeles County approving a $402 million spending plan on Tuesday through Measure H funds, the quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in March to combat and prevent homelessness.

Further funding for SCV programs through Measure H is only available if the programs apply for it, Smyth said. There are not any current plans in works to give the city more specific funding.

Friday’s meeting will center on discussion of increasing affordable housing and creating a coordinated system to increase awareness of homelessness issues and support increasing housing capacity.

The draft of the consultants and stakeholders’ plan will come at the end of June and be finalized in July, said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager.


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