SCV stakeholders wrap up two-day homelessness discussion

Service providers gathered to discuss the key issues with combatting homelessness. City-hired consultants jotted down their feedback at the front of the room. Crystal Duan/The Signal

Wrapping up a meeting from Thursday, Santa Clarita Valley service providers and city officials met Friday at the Old Town Newhall Library to continue discussing how the city can tackle the issue of homelessness.

Leading the discussion were two city-hired consultants from survey and data analysis firm Analytic Insights to help decide the best strategies for fighting homelessness via spending a $50,000 grant given by the county and United Way.

The consultants, Amy Flowers and Leslie Ogilvie, fielded ideas from local stakeholders for increasing affordable housing and creating a coordinated system to share resources.

Although less filled than the day prior, the room still had a handful of representatives from the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Family Promise, the SCV Food Pantry and other organizations.

The possibility of a home-sharing model was explored, as well as other land use reforms such as conversion of motels to accommodate the homeless.

Participants also mentioned the need to share data between each other to better know what resources in the community were available.

For many homeless people, understanding how to maintain a home when they may have never done so was also important, said Linda Davies, director of the Child & Family Center’s Domestic Violence Program. Thus, individual counseling was the best option.

“I think all of this goes back to case management,” she said. “We’ve got agencies to understand what it means to be a good neighbor and take care of homes. They may not have grown up with that and be set up for failure in these situations.”

Coordination of resource sharing also mattered for service providers to succeed, multiple representatives said.

“I would love to figure out some way for us to all share the information,” Laurie Ender, president of the board of directors for Family Promise said. “People would be more likely to give you things than money, if it’s a pair of shoes, soccer cleats, a haircut. That stuff is easier (to access).”

The community also asked for the possibility of making September a “Homeless Awareness Month” and working with local media to conduct weekly interviews throughout that month. Student housing for the younger homeless population was also discussed.

The two meetings come 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.

The grant given to the city is for it to plan strategically how to direct service providers in approaching the county for funding. Hiring the consultants was part of that grant.

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

“What we heard the most clearly is the connection between agencies and service providers needs to be strong, and that the coordination of services is key,” said Erin Lay, the city’s housing program administrator, who was present at the meeting. “(Participants) felt that there was duplication of efforts and there were situations in which something one of their clients needed was available, but they didn’t know who to go to.”

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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